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Wesley Memorial Volume ; 








J. W. BURKE & CO., Macon, Ga. J. B. M'FERRIN, Agent, Nashville, Tbnn. 

L. D. DAMERON & CO., St. Louis, Mo. 


Copyright 1880, by 


New York. 

1. If Methodism continue in vigor and purity to future genera- 
tions, it will be associated -with the name of its founder, and encircle 
his memory with increasing luster. — Richard Watson. 

2. These gentlemen are irregular, but they have done good, and 
I pray God to bless them. — Potter, Archbishop of Canterbury. 

3. Mr. "Wesley, may I be found at your feet in heaven. — Lozvth, 
Bishop of London. 

4.. In him even old age appeared delightful, like an evening 
cloud ; and it was impossible to observe him -without wishing fer- 
vently, " May my last end be like his. ' ' — Alexander Knox. 

5. I consider him as the most influential mind of the last century 
— the man who -will have produced the greatest effects centuries, or 
perhaps millenniums hence, if the present race of men should con- 
tinue so long. — Robert Southey. 

6. His life stands out, in the history of the world, unquestionably 
pre-eminent in religious labors above that of any other man since 
the apostolic age. — Abel Stevens. 

1. His quarrel was solely -with sin and Satan. His master passion 
was, in his own often-repeated expression, the love of God and the 
love of man for God's sake. The world has at length done tardy jus- 
tice to its benefactor. — Overton. 


WHEN a traveler over the mountains of California first 
sees at a distance those great trees, which, on their dis- 
covery, astonished the world, he experiences a sense of disap- 
pointment. They are only trees— large trees, it is true, and 
well proportioned, but yet only trees. But after he has 
stood in the midst of the grove — after he has walked for more 
than three hundred feet close around a single trunk, and 
looked up to branches as high above him — or perchance has 
walked upon some fallen tree a hundred feet above the ground, 
with a trunk so wide that along it a team might be driven ; 
then, and not till then, does he realize their immense magnitude. 

So is it with great men. First seen they are only men — 
common men in their appearance and habits. Not until we 
study their movements, record their labors, follow them in 
critical moments, consider their decisions, look out on their 
broad views, and feel the throbbings of their hearts, do 
we comprehend their greatness. The one grand and only 
perfect character our world has ever seen was not recognized 
by his own age. He had no " beauty that they should desire 
him," and " they esteemed him not." But after eighteen cent- 
uries he towers above all other characters. 

In some measure, such was the life of John Wesley. No 
man of his time was less understood. He was singular, because 
he fixed his eye upon and followed only the truth. He was 
maligned and traduced. Pulpits denounced him, the press 
satirized him, and every year pamphlets and volumes attacked 
his doctrines and movements, and impugned his motives. 
But, unmoved, he kept steadily to his purpose, and went about 
doing good. To-day nearly a century has passed ; the names 

6 Preface. 

of many of his detractors have perished, but every-where he is 
associated with the great thinkers and glorious workers of the 
world. His name to-day is upon more lips, in more lands, 
than is that of any other man of his times. 

It was a happy thought of the editor of this volume to 
secure different writers, from different Churches, and from 
different stand-points, to present their estimates of Mr. "Wesley's 
life and works. For Wesley was many-sided, and from many 
points of view his characteristics are worthy of record. 

To us, two elements in him are pre-eminently conspicuous. 
First, his unwearying labor and perseverance : second, his en- 
tire dedication of himself to Christ and his work. He planned 
his work skillfully, and did it thoroughly. It has been said 
of him that " he read more, wrote more, preached more, 
and traveled more, than any minister, if not than any man, of 
his times." His long life, spanning nearly a century, gave 
him great opportunities, and they were well improved. Two 
entries in his journal illustrate his life : " Here I rested for 
two weeks, that I might write up my notes, preaching only 
every morning and evening." And in his eighty-third year, 
preparing Mr. Fletcher's life, he says : " To this I dedicated all 
the time I could spare till November, from five in the morn- 
ing till eight at night. These are my studying hours : I can- 
not write longer in a day without hurting my eyes." He 
knew no rest till he found it in the grave. 

He early read, translated, published, and took into his own 
heart and life, the little book of Thomas a, Kempis, called the 
Imitation of Christ. To be like Christ, to think Christ's 
thoughts, to speak Christ's words, to carry out Christ's plans, 
to do, as far as man might do, Christ's works, was the one 
grand ambition of his life. Hence those broad ideas of toler- 
ation, Christian fellowship and unity, which the Christian 
world is slowly embracing. He heard the Master say, " The 
field is the world ; " and his heart echoed back, " The world is 
my parish." 


QEE God's witness unto men ! 

U Faithful through all the earnest years, 

As though, from old anointed seers, 
One had been bid to earth again 

For ordered work among his peers. 

Kindle as ye read the tale, 

The thrilling tale of duty done, 

Of gospel triumphs, nobly won 
By Truth, almighty to prevail, — 

By Love, unselfish as the sun. 

They to holy missions born, 

Who shed a bloom upon the days, 
And work for Christ in loving ways ; 

For them the envious blasts of scorn 
But scatter seeds of future praise. 

Time the great avenger is 

Of patient souls with lofty aim ; 

For whom the blind to-day hath blame, 

The wiser morrows hoard the bliss, 
And fill the ages with their name. 

Who themselves for others give, 
Need not to slander make reply, 
Nor falter in their purpose high ; 

For God hath willed that they should live, 
While all the proud self-seekers die. 

True hearts wish no flattering songs ; 

They humbly bow in holier fane ; 

Men do not bless the clouds for rain. 
The music of the lyre belongs 

To the skilled hand which wakes the strain. 

8 A Peepatoey Poem. 

Service is its own reward 

If the deep love but prompt the deed. 

All heaven-sent souls can ask or need 
Folds in the favor of the Lord ; 

Their guerdon this — their highest meed. 

Praise we then our God alone, 

Who made his servant thus complete ! 
And pour we, in libation sweet, 

Our wealth of spikenard — each his own — 
In tribute at the Master's feet. 

March 17, 1879. 




Eev. M. Simpson, D.D., LL.D., Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church. 


Eev. W. Morley Punshon, LL.D., of the British Wesleyan Methodists. 


Key. J. O. A. Clark, T>X>., LL.D., of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. 


Mr. George J. Stevenson, M.A., of the British "Wesleyan Methodists. 


Eev. J. 0. A. Clark, D.D., LL.D., of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. 


Eev. J. H. Eigg, D.D., of the British Wesleyan Methodists. 


Thomas Austin Bullock, LL.D., of the Methodist New Connection in England. 


Eev. Cyrus D. Foss, D.D., LL.D., Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church. 


Eev. George Douglass, LL.D., of the Methodist Church of Canada. 


Eev. Holland N\ M'Tteiee, D.D., LL.D., Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 


Eev. William Burt Pope, D.D., of the British Wesleyan Methodists. 


Eev. Orlando T. Dobbin, LL.D., (Trinity College, Dublin, and University of Ox- 
ford,) of the Church of England. 

10 Contents. 



Eev. "William Cooke, D.D., of the Methodist New Connection in England. 


Eev. Thomas Webster, D.D., of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Canada. 


Eev. L. H. Holset, Bishop of tBe Colored Methodist Episcopal Church of America. 


Eev. J. H. Eigg, D.D., of the British "Wesleyan Methodists. 


Eev. George F. Pierce, D.D., LL.D., Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 



Eev. M. Lelikvre, of the Methodist Church in France and Switzerland. 


Eev. Eeastus 0. Haven, D.D., LL.D., Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church. 


Eev. W. Morlet Punshon, LL.D., of the British "Wesleyan Methodists. 


Sir Charles Eeed, M.P., LL.D., (Yale,) of the Independents of England. 



Eev. Epnond de Pressense, D.D., (University of Breslau,) of the Eeformed Church 
of France. 

EPWORTH — A Poem 843 

Eev. D wight Williams, of the Methodist Episcopal Church. 


Eev. Joseph Kirsop, of the United Methodist Free Churches of England. 


Eev. John Potts, D.D., of the Methodist Church of Canada. 


Eev. J. E. Jaques, Ph.D., D.D., of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Canada. 


Eev. Andrew A. Lipscomb, D.D., LL.D., of the Methodist Protestant Church. 

Contents. 11 


Kev. J. O. A. Clake, D.D., LL.D., of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. 


Eev. B. F. Lee, L.B., of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. 


Bev. J. H. Overton, (University of Oxford,) of the Church of England. 


Eev. J. P. Newman, D.D., of the Methodist Episcopal Church. 


Eev. A. P. Stanley, D.D., (Dean of "Westminster,) of the Church of England. 


Eev. Abel Stevens, D.D., LL.D., of the Methodist Episcopal Church. 


Miss Eliza Wesley, granddaughter of Charles Wesley. 


Eev. Wm. M. Wishtman, D.D., LL.D., Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 


Bev. Thomas O. Summers, D.D., LL.D., of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. 

IN MEMORIAM. — Charles Wesley, Hymnologist 529 

Benjamin Gouge, of the British Wesleyan Methodists. 


Eev. Isaac P. Cook, Local Preacher of the Methodist Episcopal Church. 


Eev. Luke Tyerman, of the British Wesleyan Methodists. 


Eev. A. P. Stanley, D.D., (Dean of Westminster,) and others. 



Eev. J. 0. A. Clark, D.D., LL.D., of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. 


Hundred Writers, Living or Dead 649 

Eev. J. O. A. Clark, D.D., LL.D., of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. 

12 Contents. 



Eev. Lotiok Pierce, D.D., with an Introduction by Eev. A. G. Haygood, D.D., 

both of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. 


Eev. W. H. De Pity, D.D., of the Methodist Episcopal Church. 


Containing Official and other Papers, approving the Wesley Monu- 
mental Church, from the following Methodist Bodies and Others. 

The Methodist Episcopal Church, South ; 

The Methodist Episcopal Church ; 

The Membep.s of Congress from Georgia ; 

The President of the United States; 

The Secretary of State of the United States ; 

The Methodist Protestant Church ; 

The African Methodist Episcopal Church ; 

The Colored Methodist Episcopal Church of America; 

The Methodist Church of Canada ; 

The Methodist Episcopal Church of Canada ; 

The British Wesleyan Methodists ; 

The Methodist New Connection in England ; 

The Methodist United Free Churches in England ; 

The Primitive Methodists of England ; and 

The Methodists of France and Switzerland ; also, 

Concluding Remarks by the Editor relating to the approaching Meth- 
odist Ecumenical Council. 








MOUTH 448^5! 




I~N offering the "Wesley Memorial "Volume to the Public, it 
may be proper to state the facts in which it had its origin. 

Its object is twofold : first, to erect by pen-pictures, drawn 
by leading minds, a Memorial to Wesley which shall be, we 
trust, more enduring than marble : second, to aid the comple- 
tion of the "Wesley Monumental Church, now building in 
Savannah, Ga., the only city in America in which Mr. Wesley 
had a home and a parish. To the completion of the Monu- 
mental Church the net proceeds of the sale of the book will 
be exclusively devoted. 

During the Editor's late visit to England the Memorial Vol- 
ume was conceived. It was suggested to his mind, with almost 
the force of an inspiration, that such a work would not only 
aid his efforts to build the Monumental Church, but help to 
illustrate the life-work of John "Wesley, and bring the various 
Methodisms oe the "World into closer union and fellowship. 
While lying, pressed by many a care, upon his bed at his hotel 
in London, the Memorial Yolume, with its name, its sub- 
jects, and its contributors, was, after constant and earnest 
prayer to Almighty God, mapped out with such vividness and 
distinctness that he arose at once and wrote out the plan. The 
book now offered to the public is the result. 

The work is given, in all its essential features, just as it 
was first conceived and planned on that, to the Editor at least, 
eventful morning. A few subjects have been added, and a few 
names substituted ; but the great majority of the contributors 
are those who, from its inception, were assigned to the subjects 
upon which they have written. That the Editor might be more 


likely to succeed, to some of the themes more than one writer 
was assigned. If one failed, there were others equally able to 
whom he could apply. With the exception, therefore, of cer- 
tain subjects subsequently added, and of a few prepared by 
writers other than those to whom an invitation to write for the 
work was first given, and whose previous and unfulfilled en- 
gagements allowed them to take no part in it, the volume, 
both in its subjects and contributors, is very nearly what the 
Editor designed from the beginning. 

On the same day the work was conceived, the Editor began a 
correspondence with some of those whom he had selected to 
write for it. On some he called, and made personal request. 
In a few days he received the pledges of the Rev. Dr. James 
H. Rigg, the Rev. Dr. Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Mr. George 
J. Stevenson, M.A., Sir Charles Reed, LL.D., and the Rev. 
Dr. Abel Stevens. To these were soon added the pledges of 
the Rev. Dr. William Cooke, the Rev. Joseph Kirsop, the 
Rev. Dr. W Morley Punshon, the Rev. Dr. William B. 
Pope, the Rev. Dr. O. T. Dobbin, the Rev. Dr. E. O. Haven, 
and the Rev. Luke Tyerman. 

With these pledges, received in London, the Editor returned 
home to complete what was so auspiciously begun abroad. 
How he has succeeded will appear in the volume itself. In it 
the reader will find representative writers from nearly all the 
Methodisms of Europe, Canada, and the United States. It 
was the Editor's wish that no Methodist organization claiming 
John Wesley as its spiritual founder should be left out of the 
Memorial Volume. Every effort in his power to secure this 
result has been made. If any one is omitted it has been from no 
fault of the Editor, for he loves all the people called Method- 
ists, and prays that all, with one heart and one soul, may pre- 
serve the unity and purity of Wesleyan Methodism. 

The Editor would here gratefully record his obligations to all 
who have contributed to the work. It is, indeed, marvel- 
ous how readily responses were made to his call. This is 

Introduction. 15 

more a matter of surprise when it is remembered that every 
contributor is overburdened by Church work and other 
pressing engagements, and that every article has been a free- 
will offering — a voluntary contribution — to the Monumental 
Chitkch. Every article, as Dr. Abel Stevens called his when 
he sent it from his temporary sojourn by the lakes and mount- 
ains of Switzerland, is the author's " brick " in the monu- 
mental edifice which we are building in America in honor of 
the great and good Wesley. To one and all the Editor returns 
his heartfelt thanks. May God reward them for what has 
been to each a labor of love and self-sacrifice ! 

In returning thanks to the noble corps of writers who have 
aided him, the Editor must return special thanks to those who 
belong to other communions. May Heaven's choicest blessings 
rest upon them ! To this simple but sincere prayer we are sure 
that our common Methodism will respond a hearty Amen. 

Besides those whose names appear as contributors to the 
volume, the Editor is under obligation to others. It is very 
gratifying to be able to record that from every one— except 
three or four — both in Europe and America, with whom, while 
preparing the work, the Editor has corresponded, answers have 
been received. But perhaps it is due to the three or four 
who have failed to answer his communications, to sav, that 
the Editor has no evidence that they ever received the 
letters which he addressed to them. Their silence may, there- 
fore, be explained by the fact that his letters to them never 
arrived at their destination. From all others, however, most 
prompt and courteous answers came, nearly all of which were 
full of tenderest sympathy, of good cheer, and of sincere re- 
grets on the part of such as were prevented by prior and 
imperative engagements from writing the articles requested. 
For such universal promptness and kindness the Editor can 
account but in one way: — it was a beautiful tribute to the 
memory of the great Christian teacher and reformer whose 
life work he was seeking to honor. It showed more fully than 

16 Ikteodtjctiok. 

anything else could show, what a hold the name of John Wes- 
ley has upon all true Christian hearts the world over. And 
this is the more remarkable when it is remembered, that many 
of these answers came from those who are not called by Mr. 
"Wesley's name. In nearly every instance, both those who 
have written for the Memorial Volume and those who were 
compelled to decline, have pronounced it a very great honor to 
be asked to contribute to such a work. 

It would, no doubt, give great pleasure to Methodists and 
the friends of Mr. Wesley to read the letters themselves, or to 
see them in print. But they are too many and voluminous to 
be given here. While this is true, the Editor may be permitted 
to give a few to the public, either in whole or in part. And 
this he does the more readily, because, when he asked contri- 
butions, he requested either articles on the subjects assigned, 
or letters which might be used in the published volume. Out 
of the many received the Editor gives only the answers of such 
as have no article in the book itself. They are given in the 
order in which they were received, and the names of the dis- 
tinguished writers are as follows : the Eight Hon. W E. Glad- 
stone, ex-Premier of Great Britain ; the Rev. C. H. Spurgeon, 
of the Tabernacle, London; the Rev. Newman Hall, LL.B., 
of Christ Church Square, London ; Mr. Wm. E. H. Lecky, 
M.A., author of " Rationalism in Europe," " European Morals," 
and " England in the Eighteenth Century ; " the Right Rev. 
Dr. Ellicott, Lord Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol ; the Rev. 
Dr. W Antliff, of the Primitive Methodist Theological Insti- 
tute, Sunderland, England; the Rev. Dr. J. F. Hurst, Presi- 
dent of Drew Theological Seminary, Madison, New Jersey ; 
the Rev. Dr. Wm. M. Taylor, Pastor of the Broadway Taber- 
nacle, New York city ; the Rev. Dr. M. Simpson, Bishop of 
the Methodist Episcopal Church ; the Rev. Dr. Philip Schaff, 
of New York city ; the Rev. Dr. Wm. Bacon Stevens, Bishop 
of the Diocese of Pennsylvania ; the Rev. Dr. Daniel A. Payne, 
Bishop of the African M. E. Church, United States ; and the 

Introduction. 17 

Rev. Dr. Alexander Clark, editor of the Methodist Protestant 

" Recorder," Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Editor regrets 

to add that the Rev. Dr. Clark is since deceased. The letters 

are as follows : — 

Hawabden, September 7, 1878. 

Dear Sir: The design described in your letter is full of moral and 
historical interest, but I regret to say, it is quite beyond my power to 
take part in it. It would require me to enter upon a new and distinct 
set of studies necessary for the proper execution of the work, whereas 
my engagements already begun are in sad arrears. I must, therefore, 
ask you to excuse me. 

I remain, dear sir, your very faithful and obedient 

Rev. J. 0. A. Clakk, D.D. W. E. Gladstone. 

Nightingale Lane, Clapham, September 13, 1878. 

Dear Sir: I count it a great honor to have been asked to contribute 
to the Wesley Volume ; and you have rightly judged that I should have 
written in a tone which would show that no doctrinal differences pre- 
sent my feeling deep veneration for the character of John Wesley. 

I am, however, unable to attempt more work. I am burdened as it 
ts, and can hardly hold on from week to week. I have no leisure, nor 
the prospect of any, and I could not undertake the work which you re- 
quest of me. Yours very truly, 

Rev. J. O. A. Clakk, D.D. C. H. Spubgeon. 

The Tey House, Cheist Chuech Sqtjake, 
Hampstead Heath, September 17, 1878. 
My Dear Sir: I feel deeply grateful for the high honor your request 
confers on me. I only wish my ability were equal to my desire to 
comply with it. But the fact is, that I have just returned from my va- 
cation to a long series of preaching engagements in different parts of 
the country, which, added to my onerous pastoral work, entirely pre- 
vent my venturing to undertake so honorable and responsible a service. 
With hearty good wishes, believe me, dear sir, faithfully yours, 
Rev. J. 0. A. Clabk, D.D. Newman Hall. 

38 Onslow Gaedens, S. W., October 4, 1878. 
Dear Sir: I am sorry I cannot write an article for the Memorial 
Volume, for I have already in hand a long book which requires all my 

18 Introduction. 

energy and time ; and I have, moreover, very recently published, at con- 
siderable length, my views about Wesley and his relations to English 

If men may be measured by the work they have accomplished, John 
Wesley can hardly fail to be regarded as the greatest figure who has 
appeared in the religious history of the world since the days of the 
Reformation ; and few men have produced a religious revival in a time 
so little propitious to religious emotion, or have erected a great Church 
with so little of the spirit of a sectarian. 

It was a strange thing that, at a time when politicians were doing so 
much to divide, religious teachers should have done so much to unite, 
the two great branches of the English race ; and that, in spite of civil 
war and of international jealousy, a movement which sprang in an 
English university should have acquired so firm a hold over the hearts 
and intellects of the American people. 

Wishing every success to your Memorial, 

I remain, dear sir, your obedient servant, 

Ret. J. 0. A. Clark, D.D. W. E. H. Lecky. 

Palace, Gloucester, October 5, 1878. 

My Dear Sir: I am much honored by your kind and explicit letter. 
I am unfeignedly sorry, as I have told Dr. Rigg, that I am unable to 
take any part, however little. My time is now used up to every mo- 
ment ; and I am under a pressure which positively precludes my under- 
taking any more. I can now hardly keep up my correspondence. 

This must be my excuse for this brief answer to your most friendly 
and interesting letter. 

I have no doubt that the forthcoming Volume will be received with 
interest in both this country and America. 

I shall keep your letter as an example of true, heart-whole enthu- 
siasm in the cause you so ably advocate. 

Excuse one overpressed for saying no more, but believe me, 

Very faithfully yours, 

Rev. J. 0. A. Clakk, D.D. C. J. Gloucester and Bristol. 

Primitive Methodist Theological Institute, 

Sunderland, October 31, 1878. 
Dear Sir: Yours came to hand just as I was leaving home on Saturday. 
I take the earliest opportunity of thanking you for the honor you do me 


in asking me to write for the Wesley Memorial Volume. On account of 
the state of my health, and my numerous engagements, I am obliged to 
decline the undertaking. 

I am very sorry I cannot help you in your most laudable work. With 
my best wishes, I am, Yours truly, 

. Rev. Dk. Clabk. W. Antliff. 

Drew Theolo'gical Seminary, 

Madison, N. J., November 8, 1878. 

My Dear Doctor : I have read your letter with great interest, and think 
you have made a very wise and successful choice of writers for your 
happily-conceived work. I regret to say that it would be impossible for 
me to prepare any thing worthy of the subject within the coming six 
months, as I am so far committed to other enterprises as to be unable to 
find the time. 

Wishing you great and continued success in your work in behalf of 
the Monumental Church, I am, Yours very truly, 

Rev. J. O. A. Clark, D.D. J. F. Hurst. 

5 West Thirty-Fifth Street, 

New Yokk, December 4, 1878. 

My Dear Sir: I have read your letter of 28th ult. with great interest, 
and if I could have assented to your request, I should have felt it to 
be a high honor to be associated with so many excellent men in so good 
a cause. But I am already working up to my very last pound of steam, 
and I must not undertake any thing extra. Such a paper as you wish 
should be one's best. But the subject is rather out of the line of my 
studies ; I should have to read up for it as well as write on it, and with 
my present duties on me it would be madness for me to attempt any 
thing more. 

Not, therefore, because I have no interest in your work, but rather 
because I have not the time to give to any extra literary work, I am 
compelled to ask you to excuse me. Believe me, 

Yours faithfully, 

Rev. J. 0. A. Clark, D.D. Wm. M. Taylor. 

Philadelphia, December 6, 1878. 
Dear Brother : Yours of 29th ult. is just received. I am much pleased 
with the character of the work you are about to publish. The titles of the 

20 Introduction. 

articles and the names of the contributors must secure it success. I 
regret to say, however, that it will not be in my power to contribute an 
article as you desire. . I could not devote an hour to any other liter- 
ary work. I have been obliged to lay over every thing else on account 
of the pressure that is upon me. Wishing you success, 

Yours truly, 
Rev. J. O. A. Clark, D.D. M. Simpson. 

Bible House, New York, December 12, 1878. 

My Dear Sir: Your favor of November 28 was received this morning. 
With the best disposition to contribute my humble share toward honor- 
ing the memory of the great and good Wesley in your proposed volume, 
I must reluctantly decline, as my time and strength are already taxed to 
the utmost tension. Respectfully yours, 

Rev. J. O. A. Clark, D.D. Philip Schaff. 

Episcopal Rooms, 708 Walnut-Street, 

Philadelphia, January 11, 1879. 
Reverend and Dear Sir: In reply to your kind and interesting letter 
of the 3d inst., in reference to the Wesley Memorial Volume, I beg 
leave to say, that my engagements are so numerous and so pressing, that 
I cannot conscientiously undertake the work you suggest, and must, 
therefore, respectfully decline your kind request. 

The volume which you contemplate making, will, I doubt not, prove 
both interesting and instructive. 

Very truly yours, 
Rev. J. 0. A. Clark, D.D. Wm. Bacon Stevens, 

Diocese of Pennsylvania. 

Xenia, Ohio, January 12, 1879. 

My Dear Sir: Yours of November 29 came to hand late in December. 
I am in sympathy with your enterprise. I think it a grand one, and 
hope you may succeed beyond your most sanguine expectations. At the 
same time I regret that numerous unfinished manuscripts now before me 
will consume at least twelve months in finishing them. They are official, 
and, therefore, cannot be laid aside for any other work. So that to 
overhaul the Journal of Wesley in order that I might write such an 
essay as you desire, and the dignity of your book demands, is entirely 
out of my power at the present time. Very respectfully yours, 

Rev. J. 0. A. Clark, D.D. Payne. 


Methodist Protestant Board of Publication, 

Pittsburgh, April 7, 1879. 

My dear Dr. Clark: The announcement that you had undertaken the 
preparation of a Wesley Memorial Volume, by which to perpetuate the 
historical associations of Methodism, has given real satisfaction through- 
out our Methodist Protestant Branch of the Wesley family. Our people 
are thoroughly Methodistic in doctrine, in usage, in taste, and in all the 
fraternal sympathies of the Gospel. Ours claims to be a republic of 
mutual-righted preachers and people, holding the faith of John Wesley 
precious, and rejoicing with our older and larger sisters of the Method- 
ist persuasion in a common joy at the constantly enlarging dominion of 
this many-agented but unifold organization. 

The spirit of the world's Methodism is ever the same; and it is the 
spirit of love, of peace, and of devotion. Whatever may be the differ- 
ences of polity among the Methodist branches, the life and power are 
forever one. It is full salvation which Methodism proclaims to the dy- 
ing world, as if the consecrated messengers knew but one Lord, one 
faith, one baptism, and shouted the glad tidings as a one-hearted song. 

Our branch of this happy family, whose parish is the world and whose 
heritage is heaven, unites with all the others in congratulation that the 
hallowed garden-ground at Savannah is to be marked henceforth by a 
monument, not as over a grave but as over a cradle ; for your service is 
to commemorate the new birth of Christianity in the wilderness ; to re- 
cord the consequent life and beauty of Methodism ; and to foretell the 
coming glory of this wonderful manifestation of the divine favor. 
Yours is a gracious privilege. You do the will of a vast multitude. 
What Plymouth Rock is to Congregationalism, the rich soil of Georgia, 
where Wesley planted Methodism, is to a vastly larger host of Christian 
people this day. The Puritans wrought a work in America worthy of 
their rigid integrity, and a million voices speak blessings on their names ; 
but the doctrine of free-grace, as interpreted by the scholar of Oxford, 
preaching beneath the pines and palmettos of the New World, has found 
a welcome in a much larger multitude of exultant souls. 

I greet you, dear b'rother, with a warm right hand in your most com- 
mendable service. Others of our branch, authorized to speak for us 
more officially — President L. W. Bates, D.D., of Lynch burgh, Virginia, 
and Secretary George B. M'Elroy, D.D., of Adrian, Michigan — will 
doubtless send you a message of becoming ecclesiastical recognition, and 
I venture to speak my Amen to their communication beforehand, or in 
the midst, or afterward, wherever, in the method of responsive Method- 


ism, this sincere word may chance to strike the current of the more im- 
portant correspondence from the body to which I have the honor to 

And may heavenly benedictions crown your efforts in a thousand 
lingering joys, until our glory is complete in Jesus Christ our Lord ! 

Affectionately, Alexander Clark. 

Before dismissing this Introduction it should be stated, that 
all the articles in this volume, except a very few, were written 
expressly for it, and have appeared nowhere else. And of 
those excepted nearly all have been rewritten or especially 
arranged by their respective authors. For the poem, "In 
Memoriam — Charles Wesley," by the late Benjamin Gough, 
the writer is indebted to Mr. George J. Stevenson, of Pater- 
noster Row, in whose excellent work, " The Wesleyan Hymn 
Book and its Associations," the poem originally appeared. 
The Editor takes this occasion to say, that to no one while 
abroad was he under greater obligations than to George John 
Stevenson. For so much patient service, at the cost of so 
much labor and self-sacrifice, and for so many delicate atten- 
tions to himself and other American strangers in the great 
and crowded metropolis of England, the writer of this will 
ever pray that the benedictions of Heaven may always 
rest upon Mr. Stevenson and his equally kind and hospitable 

For the paper, " The Wesley Memorial in Westminster Ab- 
bey," the Editor is indebted to the distinguished personages 
who shared the leading parts in the beautiful and appropriate 
ceremonies which witnessed the unveiling of the Wesley Mon- 
ument in that venerable mausoleum. The hand of Dean Stan- 
ley himself, chief speaker on the occasion, has arranged his 
address for publication here. And to the same worthy Dean 
we are under special obligations for permission to print his late 
address before the Wesleyan Children's Home of London. 
This address, never before given to the public, revised by 
Dean Stanley, and printed for this volume at the press of the 

Intkoduction. 23 

Children's Home, was sent to the Editor by Mr. T. B. Stephen- 
son, M.A., its able and distinguished president. 

To Miss Eliza Wesley, of London, grand-daughter of Charles 
Wesley, the poet of Methodism, the Editor is indebted for 
two tunes by her father, Samuel Wesley, and one by her late 
brother, Samuel S. Wesley, both of whom were eminent mu- 
sical doctors, and musicians to the English Court. 

To the Rev. Dr. Edmond de Pressense, of Paris, pastor of 
the Reformed Church of France, whose aid, at the request of 
the Editor of this volume, was procured through the kind 
intervention of the Rev. M. Lelievre, of L'Evangeliste, Nimes, 
and whose communication was sent both in French and in the 
English translation, the Editor has the pleasure of returning 
his sincere thanks. 

Many have been the letters received in which the prayers of 
the writers were offered up for the success of the Wesley Me- 
morial Volume ! Writing from his Irish home, in Dublin, 
Dr. Orlando T. Dobbin, of the Church of England, thus con- 
cludes a letter to the Editor : 

"Allow me to wish you a favorable voyage, and a return 
cargo richer than that of a Spanish galleon, with your hand- 
some venture. With yourself I anticipate for the good Ship, 
John Wesley, a hearty welcome in every port the bark may 
touch at. Better than this, I believe and hope your book will 
do real good to souls, and lead many to think what it was that 
wins all this renown to your once humble preacher but now 
exalted saint." 


WMsmvik ^'£ML%: 


Wesley Memorial Volume. 


THE righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance, is 
the declaration of the psalmist ; and the truth of those 
words was probably never more clearly demonstrated than in 
the family of the Epworth Wesleys, but more particularly in 
the persons of John and Charles "Wesley, the founders of 
Methodism. In almost every country under heaven there are 
to be found adherents and followers of John Wesley by the 
name of Methodists ; and in a much wider sense the influence 
of Charles Wesley is felt, for his hymns are sung by Christians 
of every denomination ; and whether these people, spread all 
over the earth, acknowledge their indebtedness to those two 
brothers or not for helps in their religious services, the fact re- 
mains the same. 

Though at first despised, insulted, and every-where spoken 
against, the Wesleys persevered in the glorious work which they 
commenced at Oxford about the year 1729, and which assumed 
a more definite and permanent form ten years afterward, when, 
in the month of November or December, 1739, John Wesley 
commenced the " United Societies," which have spread and in- 
creased until they now reach the uttermost parts of the earth. 
Now the question arises on many lips, Who are these Wesleys, 
and whence came they ? 

28 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

For a period of two hundred and eighty years nothing was 
known of the history of the Wesleys beyond the seventeenth 
century. Dr. Whitehead, Dr. Adam Clarke, and Dr. Robert 
Southey, all three of whom wrote what they considered to be 
elaborate and exhaustive memoirs of the Wesleys, all failed to 
throw even a glimmer of light on their early history, while 
one of these learned men declares, that all the records of 
the family of an earlier date than the reigns of the Stuarts in 
England are lost. That statement has no foundation in truth. 
Records do exist, by which we are enabled to get a continuous 
genealogy of the Wesleys during fully one half of the Chris- 
tian era : but the three learned doctors named above did not 
persevere in their researches long enough to receive the reward 
which has crowned the perseverance of the writer. It is be- 
lieved that we are indebted to a near relative of the Duke 
of Wellington for the gathering together and completing the 
Genealogical Table of the Wesley Family, so far as it is com- 
plete, which was done nearly a century ago. It is a curious 
circumstance that about the period these inquiries were being 
made by the descendants of the Earl of Mornington, John 
Wesley should have made the declaration, that all he or his 
family knew of their ancestry went no further back than a 
"letter which his grandfather's father had written to her he 
was to marry " in a few days. That letter was dated 1619, so 
that Bartholomew Wesley was then a single young man. Be- 
yond that period the Epworth Wesleys knew nothing of their 
ancestry. Had they known what we do, it might have had the 
effect of diverting their minds from that great work which has 
made their memories so precious to multitudes of people all 
the world over. 

In the annals of both England and Ireland the Wesleys, or 
Westleys, or Wellesleys, (for they exist under all these desig- 
nations,) have a place which marks them in successive genera- 
tions as among the foremost men of the age for loyalty, chiv- 
alry, learning, piety, poetry, and music: not all represented 

The Wesley Family. 29 

in any one person or generation, but in the successive ages 
these are distinguishing features of the leading members. 
These marks of mental and moral culture, as well as of emi- 
nent natural genius, were not extinct in those members of the 
family who have but recently passed away from earth ; nor are 
they in those who still survive. When the venerable Samuel 
"Wesley died, in 1837, it was acknowledged by those who knew 
him best, that as an extempore player on the organ, or as a 
composer of organ-music, he had but few equals and no supe- 
rior ; while in the person of his son, Dr. Samuel Sebastian 
Wesley, who died as recently as April 19th, 1876, the same 
surpassing excellence was readily accorded to him as had been 
bestowed on his father. 

Long before the Normans conquered the country called En- 
gland, the Wesley family occupied a prominent place in the 
land. Before surnames were used, and before England was 
united under one sovereign, this family flourished. When 
Athelstan the Saxon ruled in this land, A.D. 925-940, he called 
Guy, the then head of the family, to be a thane, or a member 
of his parliament. This Guy married his kinswoman, named 
Phenan, the daughter of an old chieftain ; he resided at Welswe, 
near Wells, in Somerset. His son was Geoffrey, who occupied 
a prominent position among his Saxon compeers, and having 
been unjustly treated by Etheldred, he joined himself to the 
Danish forces, and marched with Sweyn against his own coun- 
trymen. His son was Licolph, who is said to have been con- 
cerned in the murder of Edmund the Elder, A. D. 946, and he 
was in his turn murdered on his way home to Etingdon many 
years afterward. His eldest son, Walrond, married Adelicia 
Percy, and long resided on his ancestral estate, the Manor of 
Welswey, and died there about A. D. 1070, leaving two sons, 
Avenant and William. Both these persons were owners and 
occupiers of large landed territory. Avenant obtained the ser- 
geantry of all the country east of the river Peret to Bristol 
Bridge. About that period surnames began to be used, or 

30 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

terms which led to them ; hence we find the elder of these 
brothers thus designated in contemporary records : Avenant of 
Welswey, or Wesley ; while the younger is mentioned as "Will- 
iam de Wellesley, who married Elene de Chetwynde. The son 
of the latter was the heir, whose name was Roger de Welles- 
ley; he married Matilda O'Neal, and left issue, two sons and 
two daughters. The marriage of these four children into some 
of the principal families in England greatly increased the 
property of the family, and extended their influence in the 
country. Stephen, the heir, married Alice de Cailli, county of 
York. He having distinguished himself with Sir John Courcy 
in the wars in England and Gascony, was sent with Sir John to 
Ireland in 1172, to try and subdue Ulster. Of their four chil- 
dren, Walter, the youngest, who had been initiated into all the 
arts of chivalry, was permitted to accompany his father to Ire- 
land, and he had the distinguished honor of being appointed 
standard-bearer to the King, Henry II., who led the warlike 
expedition. For his military services in Ireland he obtained 
large grants of land in the counties of Meath and Kildare, and 
he settled in that country on his property. A standard, sup- 
posed to be the one carried in 1172, was preserved in the Irish 
branch of the family to quite a recent period. The Irish Wes- 
leys became a numerous and influential family. 

Leaving the Irish branch of the Wesleys to the heir, Valeri- 
an, his younger brother, Nicholas de Wellesley, married Laura 
Vyvyan, daughter of a Cornish Baronet, and inherited the En- 
glish estates in the west of England. He was engaged in much 
military service, for which he was amply rewarded, and left is- 
sue four sons and two daughters, several of whom married 
by which the family estates were again increased. William 
was his heir. He is sometimes called Walrond, and was grand- 
son of the standard-bearer. He married Ann, daughter of Sir 
William Vavaseur. Contemporary history mentions him as 
Walrond the younger, a great warrior ; he was slain, with Sir 
Robert Percival, in a battle with the Irish, October 22, 1303 

The Wesley Family. 31 

aged seventy years. For his courage and conquests t.\ie honor 
of knighthood was conferred on him. His eldest son, Will- 
iam, was also slain in battle with the Irish. His youngest son, 
John, became the heir as Sir John de Wellesley, Knight, who 
married a daughter of the English Wellesleys, of the county of 
Somerset. His son, Sir John de Wellesley, was summoned to 
Parliament as a baron of the realm, and as sheriff of Kildare. 
William, the younger son, became the heir, with the title Sir 
William de Wellesley. He was one of the most influential 
men of his time, and his family represented interests of such 
magnitude as but seldom concentrate in one household. 

We take a new starting-point here, as from this center there 
emanate three very prominent streams of family life and influ- 
ence. Sir William was married to Elizabeth, by whom he had 
one son, Edward, and three daughters. Edward joined the 
Scottish army during the Crusades, and set out with Sir James 
Douglas and the Crusaders to Palestine with the intention of 
placing the heart of Robert Bruce in the Holy Sepulcher : he 
died in a contention with the Saracens in 1340. ' This incident 
entitles the Wesleys to use the scallop shell in the quarterings 
of their family arms ; indeed, the Epworth Wesleys filled their 
shield with that feature only. While these events were trans- 
piring in the Holy Land, Sir William was created a peer of the 
realm under the title of Baron ISToragh, and married, for his 
second wife,. Alice, daughter of Sir John Trevellion, and had 
issue, four sons, named Walrond, Richard, Robert, and Ar- 
thur. Robert was a monk, and died unmarried. Each of the 
other sons became the head of a distinguished family, whose 
descendants have come down to our times. Their father, Sir 
William, was summoned to Parliament as a peer in 1339, but 
previously he had received from Edward II., in 1326, a grant 
by patent for the custody of the Castle of Kildare, but this 
was afterward changed by the king for the custody of the 
Manor of Demore in 1342, with the yearly fee of twenty 
marks. A grant of land was also made to him for his defense 

32 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

of the Castle of Dunlavon, and for his services against the 
O'Tothells, (powerful anti-royalists,) one of whom he took pris- 
oner. He was afterward made governor of Carbery Castle 
in Ireland, by Eichard II. He died at a very advanced age. 
His heir was "Walrond. His second son, Sir Richard de Wel- 
lesley, became the head of the Wesleys of Dangan Castle, 
county of Meath, in Ireland, from whom descended the Mar- 
quis of "Wellesley, Governor-general of India, and his brother 
Arthur, the Duke of "Wellington. His fourth son, Arthur, 
became the head of the family of the "Wesleys, in Shropshire 
and Wales, who in the Middle Ages took the name and estates 
of Porter, and from whom descended Sir Robert Ker Porter, 
the traveler and author, and his sisters, Anna Maria and Mary 
Jane Porter, well-known authoresses of the early years of the 
nineteenth century. 

"Walrond de "Wellesley married into the family of the Earl 
of Kildare. He succeeded to "Wellesley Manor, county of 
Somerset, in England, leaving to his brother Richard the Irish 
estates. He accompanied Prince Edward in a military expe- 
dition to France, and subsequently set out with the king to 
check an invasion of the Scots in Northumberland, where his 
brother was killed. He was eventually taken prisoner with the 
Earl of Pembroke, and died in France, 1373. 

Gerald de "Wellesley, third Baron Noragh, succeeded to the 
estates, but, having offended King Henry TV., was deprived of 
them, and was imprisoned for some years, but was liberated on 
the accession of Henry V., in 1413. His estates were returned 
to him, but the title of nobility was refused. He had issue, 
three sons and three daughters. Arthur was his heir. 

Arthur, on coming to his inheritance, took the name of 
"Westley. He married Margaret, daughter of Sir Thomas 
Ogilvy. Relieved of the responsibilities which had rested on 
his father, he devoted himself to the improvement of his prop- 
erty and to the extension of his influence, in both which he was 
very successful. Of his four sons, John entered the Church 

The Wesley Family. 33 

Richard married one of the Wellesleys of Dangan Castle, 
Humphrey married the daughter of Robert Wesley, of West- 
ley Hall, and Hugh, the heir, obtained the honor of knight- 
hood, and resumed the name of Wellesley. 

Sir Hugh de Wellesley married into the family of the Earl 
of Shrewsbury, ancient, wealthy, and influential, by which he 
recovered much of the position his grandfather had lost ; this 
was further increased by the marriage of his children. His 
son Richard fell in battle with the Irish in 1570. 

William de Wellesley, the heir, married in 1532, into the 
family of the Earl of Devon, by which his influence was greatly 
extended among the nobility. He had one son and two daugh- 
ters. One of the latter married into the family of Wellesleys 
of Dangan. 

Walter, only son of the foregoing, took the name of Wesley, 
or Westley, and married into the wealthy family of Tracey. 
They had issue six daughters and one son. 

Herbert was the only son of Walter Wesley, and had the 
honor of knighthood conferred upon him. Sir Herbert mar- 
ried (terrvp. Queen Elizabeth) Elizabeth, daughter of Robert 
Wesley, of Dangan Castle, Ireland, by which event both the 
English and Irish branches of the family were again united. 
They had issue three sons, William, his heir, Harphame, who 
died unmarried, and Bartholomew, who was ordained a priest, 
and became the head of that branch known as the Wesleys of 

William, the heir, was contemporary with King James I. 
He had issue three sons. William Wesley was his heir, and 
married the daughter of Sir Thomas Piggot. He had two sons 
and two daughters. George Arthur Wesley was his heir, who 
spent some years in the army, and squandered most of his prop- 
erty. He was twice married. Their issue was one son and 
one daughter. Their eon, Francis Wesley, born in 1767, mar 
ried Elizabeth Bamfield. They had six children. Francis 
died in 1854, aged eighty-seven years, his wife died a few years 

34 '/ The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

previously, aged eighty-two years. Alfred "Wesley was their 
heir, born in 1804, and married Anne Lilly. They had issue, 
six sons, five of whom are now living : one is a clergyman in 
the Church of England, the Eev. Lewis Herbert "Wellesley 

Keturning to Bartholomew "Wesley, third son of Sir Her- 
bert "Wesley, we get to the source from whom the founders 
of Methodism were directly descended; the same person 
of whom John "Wesley wrote in the brief extract previously 

The Rev. Bartholomew "Wesley was born in the county of 
Dorset about the year 1595. Chivalry held high rank at that 
period, and his father and his mothers father had been brought 
up under the strongest impulses of that mighty influence. 
Great deeds, both in Church and State, were often the theme 
of conversation in the family of Sir Herbert "Wesley, and chiv- 
alry, doubtless, became the standard of aspiration to his sons. 
Poetry, as well as religion, laid hold on chivalry, and took some 
of its most popular themes from the heroism of their ancestors. 
Religion was no strange thing in their household, and Puritan- 
ism was developing in the National Church when Bartholo- 
mew Wesley was sent to Oxford to complete his education. 
He studied both physic and divinity at the University, and 
about the year 1619 he married the daughter of Sir Henry 
Colley, of Kildare, Ireland. "We find no trace of any family, 
excepting one son, named John, who has had his name perpet- 
uated in the annals of English Nonconformity. From the 
time of the marriage of Bartholomew "Wesley to the year 1640 
we find no records concerning the family, but in that year he 
was installed Rector of the small parish of Catherston, county 
of Dorset. To that small living was added that of Charmouth, 
the two being of the yearly value of £35 10s. Out of that 
sum he had to maintain the dignity of a clergyman, the posi- 
tion of the son of a knight of the shire, and educate his son 
for the ministry ! If we consider the privations, persecutions, 

The Wesley Family. 35 

and sufferings which this good minister had to endure in the 
course of his protracted earthly pilgrimage, (for he lived 
through more than fourscore years,) we are amazed at his fidel- 
ity to Christ and his cause, and see in that endurance the 
same spirit as that of which St. Paul wrote in his Epistle to 
the Hebrews, in describing the faith of the patriarchs. 

After the battle of Worcester, in 1651, King Charles II. 
wished to escape to France, and in his journeyings he came, 
incognito, to the village where Mr. Wesley resided. Being 
suspected at the smithy, where one of the horses of the royal 
party had to be shod, Mr. Wesley, as the minister, was appealed 
to, and steps were taken by him to try and arrest the fugitive 
king ; but the king escaped. The incident brought Mr. Wes- 
ley into notice, and contemporary historians, who favored 
popery, speak of him with contempt for his conduct on that 
occasion. Lord Clarendon calls him " a fanatical weaver who 
had been in the parliamentary army," and again, he is described 
as "the puny parson." All the Wesleys, for three hundred 
years, were of small stature, ranging between five feet four 
inches and five feet six inches. Bartholomew Wesley was one 
of the ejected ministers in 1662 ; so, also, was his son John, 
who was then minister of Winterburn- Whitchurch, in Dorset. 
The merciful providence of God undertook for him and his, 
when east upon the world without means, and one of his neigh- 
bors wrote of him in 1664, that " this Wesley, of Charmouth, 
now a Nonconformist, lives by the practice of physic in the 
same place " where he had ministered the Gospel. He was 
afterward exiled from his home and friends, and had to endure 
fierce and cruel persecution, so that we know neither the time 
nor place, exactly, of his death, but he expired about the year 
168U, at about the age of eighty-five years. 

John Wesley, A. M., only son of Bartholomew, was born 
about the year 1636, in the county of Devon. Receiving a 
thorough education at the best schools in that county, he was 
sent to Oxford, where he entered NeAV Inn Hall, and seems to 

36 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

have received special help and favor in his studies from Dr. 
John Owen, Yice-Chancellor of the University. He acquired 
considerable learning, took his M.A. degree, left college about 
1658, returned home to his father's house, and soon gathered a 
Church at Weymouth, where he preached for some months. 
A vacancy occurring in the parish of Winterburn-Whitchurch, 
John "Wesley was examined by Oliver Cromwell's " Triers," 
and having passed with approval, was appointed by them to 
minister in the vacant parish, in May, 1658. The living was 
valued at £30 a year, and on that pittance he commenced his 
public ministrations, and the same year he married the daugh- 
ter of the Rev. John White, " the Patriarch of Dorchester," 
and one of the members of the Westminster Assembly of 

Dr. Callamy tells us that they had a numerous family, but 
for over a century the names of only two of their children 
were known ; subsequent and recent inquiry has made known 
the following : Timothy, born April, 1659 ; Elizabeth, born 
January, 1660 ; Matthew, born May, 1661 ; Samuel, born De- 
cember, 1662, and Thomas, date unknown. John Wesley, 
their father, endured sorrows, losses, persecutions, and priva- 
tions of the most painful character, and they brought him 
prematurely to the grave in the year 1678, at the early age of 
forty-two years. He is said to have died in the village of 
Preston, Dorset, and to have been secretly buried in the night, 
as the royalist party, then in power, refused his body burial in 
the church-yard, where he had so long ministered ! His widow 
survived him thirty-two years, enduring great and continued 
hardships, supported chiefly by her two sons, Matthew and 
Samuel, the latter of whom spared his mother (out of his own 
small income) " ten pounds a year, to keep her from starving." 
She died in 1710, at a village near Coventry. Such is a brief, 
but faithful sketch of the parents of Samuel Wesley, Rector 
of Epworth, and the grandparents of the founders of Method- 

The Wesley Family. 37 

The Epwoeth Wesleys. 
History can scarcely furnish a more doleful picture than that 
which was presented in the homes of no less than two thousand 
clergymen in England, in the month of August, 1662, a period 
known as " black Bartholomew," as on St. Bartholomew's Day 
that number of ministers of the Gospel were ejected from 
their homes, their livings, and many of them from all sources 
of income, excepting what the charity of neighbors sup- 
plied. John Wesley, then a young married clergyman of only 
twenty-six summers, with a young wife, and three very young 
children, was ejected from his living at Winterburn-Whit- 
church. Four months after that great calamity Mrs. Wesley 
gave birth to her fourth child, on December 17, 1662, and they 
called him Samuel. Born in the midst of social and national 
troubles of more than ordinary severity and continuance, it was 
his hard lot to struggle with difficulties, hardships, and almost 
penury, during nearly sixty years. Surrounded by pious influ- 
ences, he was yet deprived of his godly father while a boy at 
school, and his devoted and pious mother had a heavy respon- 
sibility resting on her, with her large family, so that Samuel, 
when once removed from her home and sent to school, knew 
nothing more of home till he made one for himself. How 
he struggled for a bare subsistence and to pay for the best 
education he could obtain in some of the best schools and at 
college, is a record of deep and appealing interest, even now, 
after the lapse of two centuries. At the age of nineteen he 
wrote and published a book called " Maggots," to help to pay 
his expenses at college. Dr. John Owen often proved his 
friend, as he had previously been to his father before him. He 
took his B.A. degree in June, 1688, and afterward his M.A. 
degree, both at Oxford and Cambridge. Dr. Thomas Spratt, 
Bishop of Rochester, gave him deacon's orders August 7, 
1688, and he was ordained priest by Dr. Compton, Bishop of 
London, February 24, 1689. Both those prelates were at Ox- 
ford with his father. 

38 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

The same year he had a curacy given him, with the liberal 
salary of £28 per annum. For a few months he was t, naval 
chaplain, at the handsome salary of £70 a year, but this was 
soon given up for another curacy, at £30 a year, and while 
holding the latter preferment he earned £30 more by his pen ; 
so that in 1689 he was passing rich on £60 a year, and on the 
strength of that income he entered on the marriage state, hav- 
ing for his bride Susanna, the youngest daughter and twenty- 
fifth child of the learned and pious Dr. Samuel Annesley. 
Mr. Wesley was ordained in the Church of St. Andrew, Hol- 
born, and he is believed to have been married there also. No 
man was ever more suitably mated. Mrs. Susanna Wesley be- 
came the mother of nineteen children ; of these, her three sons 
who reached maturity, Samuel, John, and Charles "Wesley, 
occupy each a distinguished place in the annals of the country 
which gave them birth, and of the Church in which they were 
such eminent examples of piety, earnestness, and devotion to 
the work of their lives. 

Unable to live in London on £60 a year, with a wife and 
child, Mr. "Wesley gladly accepted the living of South Ormsby, 
Lincolnshire, where six children were born to them, one in 
each year. In the year 1696 the living of Epworth was pre- 
sented to him, which was worth £200 a year at that time, and 
which would have been a comfortable living but for the birth 
of one child annually in the family for nineteen successive 
years, the falling of his barn, and the burning of the rectory- 
house twice. The costs of those repairs, with his heavy family 
expenses, and much affliction, made life burdensome, and for 
forty years they were hardly ever free from debt, part of 
which had to be satisfied by the incarceration of the worthy 
rector in Lincoln Castle. Mrs. Wesley directed the education 
of all their children, preparing the boys for college at Oxford, 
and the girls to go out as teachers in schools for young ladies. 
The success of Mrs. Wesley's efforts in that department of 
home duty has made her a model for all English women ; while 

The "Wesley Family. 89 

the father of the Wesleys, as the Rector of Epworth is now- 
called, was most diligently employed in pastoral work, in prep- 
aration for the pulpit, and in writing books, so that by the aid 
of his pen he might add somewhat to the income which was felt 
to be so sadly inadecraate to the wants of the family. He died 
in the midst of his family, just before sunset, April 25, 1735, 
aged seventy-two years, saying, a few minutes previously, after 
reviewing his past life : " I thank Him for all ; I bless Him for 
all ; I love Him for all." He was interred in Epworth church- 
yard three days afterward. The " Gentleman's Magazine " of 
that year described him as " a person of singular parts, piety, 
and learning, author of several poetical and controversial pieces." 
Susanna, the wife of Samuel Wesley, is now generally des- 
ignated " the mother of the Wesleys." She was born in Lon- 
don, January 20, 1669. This remarkable anecdote is related 
by Dr. Callamy, in reference to the birth of this child : " How 
many children has Dr. Annesley?" To which Dr. Thomas 
Manton replied, " I believe it is tw r o dozen, or a cpiarter of a 
hundred." For many years it was difficult to determine which 
number was correct, but recent research has proved that both 
numbers are correct. She was her father's twenty-fifth child, 
but she was the twenty-fourth child of her mother, who was 
Dr. Annesley's second w T ife. Her mother was the daughter of 
John White, a member of the Westminster Assembly of Di- 
vines ; he was a man of considerable influence in London, who 
died in 1644, and was buried with much ceremony in the Tem- 
ple Church, and over his grave is a marble tablet with this 
inscription : 

" Here lieth a John, a burning, shining light, 
Whose name, life, actions, all were White." 

It is curious that the mother of Samuel Wesley, her husband, 
was also a daughter of a John White, who also was a member 
of the Westminster Assembly. 

The education of Mrs. Wesley was thorough, and included a 

40 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

knowledge of Greek, Latin, and also French. She excelled in 
all the graces and accomplishments which a finished education 
could bestow. The systematic manner in which she con- 
ducted the education of her children, and the remarkable 
success which she had in her efforts, led her son to obtain 
from his mother details of the same, which he published, 
and these, with other circumstances arising out of them, 
have tended to invest her memory with imperishable fra- 
grance, which will be perpetuated to the end of time, wher- 
ever Methodism is known. The trials and difficulties she went 
through were so numerous and protracted no language can 
describe them ; these she endured almost without a murmur. 
She lived to see the commencement of Methodism. Her last 
home on earth was the residence of her son John, at the 
Foundery, Moorfields, where she peacefully entered into rest 
July 23, 1742, aged 73 years, and was interred by her son 
John in the burial-ground of Bunhill Fields, London. A mar- 
ble obelisk to her memory was erected in 1870, in the front of 
Mr. Wesley's Chapel in the City Road, about two hundred 
yards from the spot where she is buried. Dr. Adam Clarke, 
in summing up the incidents of her life, says : " I have been 
acquainted with many pious females ; I have read the lives of 
others ; but such a woman, take her for all in all, I have not 
heard of, I have not read of, nor with her equal have I been ac- 
quainted. In adopting Solomon's words, I can say, 'Many 
daughters have done virtuously,' but Susanna Wesley has ex- 
celled them all." Her son, Charles, wrote his " Hymns for the . 
Lord's Supper " shortly after his mother's death, and he is be- 
lieved to have had the life of suffering and the peaceful death 
of his beloved parents in his mind, when he wrote the 
following: lines : — 

j t> 

" Who are these arrayed in white, 
Brighter than the noonday sun, 
Foremost of the sons of light, 
Nearest the eternal throne ? 

The Wesley Family. 


These are they that bore the cross, 

Nobly for their Master stood; 
Sufferers in his righteous cause, 

Followers of the dying God. 

" Out of great distress they came, 

Washed their robes by faith below, 
In the blood of yonder Lamb, 

Blood that washes white as snow; 
Therefore are they next the throne, 

Serve their Maker day and night; 
God resides among his own, 

God dotli in his saints delight." 

Her Children, to the Third and Fourth Generation, rise 
up to call her blessed. 

Owing to the burning of the Epworth rectory-house in Feb- 
ruary, 1709 — and with it were destroyed all the parochial regis- 
ters — the record of the births of their nineteen children was 
lost. After many years of inquiry and research eighteen out 
of the nineteen have been found. They are as follows : 

Children of the Epworth Wesleys. 











Where Bom. 

When Born. 

When Died. 

Samuel Wesley, M.A., 



, 1690, 



Susanna Wesley, 

So. Ormsby, 





Emilia Wesley, 

So. Ormsby, 


, 1691, 


Anneslev Wesley, ) m . 

r , I Twins, 

Jedechah Wesley, ) 

So. Ormsby, 




Susanna Wesley, 

So. Ormsby, 




Mary Wesley, 

So. Ormsby, 




Mehetabel Wesley, 




, 1750. 





John Wesley, 





Benjamin Wesley, 









Anne Wesley, 



John Benjamin Wesley, 






Son, smothered, 






Martha Wesley, 





Charles Wesley, 






Kezia Wesley, 



, 1709, 



42 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

To most Methodists, the chief interest in the Wesley family 
is concentrated in the Epworth Wesleys. For any service of 
blessing to mankind, all the labors of all the "Wesleys for a 
thousand years past, so far as we know them, are not to be com- 
pared with the labors of John and Charles Wesley, numbered 
respectively 15 and 18, in the family roll as given above. A 
few words respecting each of the children may be considered 

Samuel Wesley, the first-born of their large family, had this 
peculiarity, he was dumb till he was five years old, then com- 
menced to talk as perfectly as any child. He was the only 
child in the family who went to any school apart from home. 
He was a scholar in Westminster School. In 1711, through 
the advice of Bishop Atterbury, he became a student at Christ 
Church, Oxford. He took his M.A. degree, got ordination, 
then returned to Westminster as an usher, where he remained 
till January, 1732, when he was appointed head master of 
Blundell's School, in Tiverton, where he died rather suddenly 
in November, 1739, about a month before the first Methodist 
Society was organized. He had strongly opposed his brother 
John in his evangelistic labors. He married Miss Berry, by 
whom he had one son and two daughters ; the son died young, 
the daughters married, and became disconnected with the Meth- 
odists. He published a volume of poems, in which are sev- 
eral good hymns which have a place in all Methodist Hymn 

Susanna, the first of that name, died at the age of a little 
over two years. 

Emilia grew to woman's estate, and, after enduring many 
hardships and privations, married Eobert Harper, a tradesman 
in Epworth without a trade, whom she had to keep for some 
years, but from whom she was afterward separated, and her 
brother John became her protector and friend. He gave her 
apartments in the house connected with his chapel in West- 
street, London, where she died in peace in the year 1771, in her 

The Weslev Family. 43 

eightieth year. She had an exquisite taste for music and 

Annesley and Jedediah have their names recorded in the 
registers at South Ormsby, where they were both baptized, and 
died, and were buried. 

Susanna, the second daughter of that name, was taken by 
her uncle Matthew, in London, after the rectory-house was 
burned down in 1709. While she was yet a girl and away from 
home her mother wrote to her a long letter on the chief arti- 
cles of the Christian faith, based on the Apostles' Creed, which 
has been printed, and will be preserved to the end of time as 
a marvelous theological production from the pen of a woman. 
She afterward married Richard Ellison, of Epworth, but the 
marriage was not a happy one, and they were separated. She 
died in full assurance of faith, at the house of her daughter 
Ann; in London, in 1764, leaving four children — two sons and 
two daughters. Her descendants are now a numerous host, 
some scores of whom are named in the "Memorials of the 
Wesley Family," published by Phillips & Hunt, New York. 

Mary Wesley was of a weak constitution, and deformed in 
body ; but this defect was compensated for by a face which 
was exceedingly beautiful, and by a mind and disposition al- 
most angelic. In 1731 she was married to John Whitelamb, 
who had been her father's amanuensis ; and who became the rec- 
tor of Wroote, where Mrs. Whitelamb died before she had been 
married a year. She had been the household drudge at Ep- 
worth, and had by her needle added much to the comfort of 
both John and Charles Wesley. 

Mehetabel Wesley was in personal appearance, in accom- 
plishments and genius, the gem of the family. She was the 
first of the family born at Epworth, and as an infant she gave 
evidence of that remarkable art and mental power which 
marked her as possessing a combination of all the excellences 
of the Wesley character. Possessed of handsome features, 
graceful form, winning manners, and mental powers far above 

44 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

her years, her company was the delight of all who knew her. 
Alas, her career proved to be one of the hardest and most 
checkered of all the family. Opposed by her father in her 
early love affairs, she at length threw herself away on a 
wretched man very much below her in every respect, and after 
giving birth to several children, who all died in infancy, she at 
length herself sank into the grave, in 1750, under the weight 
of accumulated griefs and sorrows ; but she has left behind her 
some few specimens of her poetic genius, which, for tenderness 
and beauty of sentiment and expression, will live to the end of 
time. She was a contributor to the pages of the " Gentleman's 
Magazine," and her own memory is embalmed in that work in 
some very touching lines. She died happy, and Charles "Wes- 
ley attended her funeral. 

John and Benjamin "Wesley were two sons who both died 
soon after their birth, but around whose memories their moth- 
er had entwined such kindly associations that she determined 
to have both their names united in one if she had another son. 
"When, in June, 1703, she had another son who lived to be bap- 
tized, she had him called John Benjamin. This is he who be- 
came the founder of Methodism. The second name was never 
used after infancy, and the register of baptism being destroyed 
in the Epworth fire, this fact would never have been known 
but for its preservation as a family tradition. 

Twin children, a boy and a girl, were born in May, 1701 ; 
they are mentioned in a letter written by their father to the 
Archbishop of York the day after their birth. They died be- 
fore any record was made of their names. 

Anne Wesley was married to John Lambert, a surveyor of 
Epworth, in 1725. In 1726 John "Wesley was sponsor at the 
baptism of Mrs. Lambert's first-born, who was named John. 
The family removed to Hatfield, near London, where all trace 
of them was lost after the year 1742. 

John Wesley, A.M., the Founder of Methodism, was born 
in June, 1703, but of the place and date of his birth there is 

The Wesley Family. 45 

no existing record ; these were consumed in the rectory fire 
in 1709. John was six years old when that fire took place, 
and the manner in which he was rescued that- night makes his 
escape with life one of the most remarkable deliverances from 
instant death upon record. Pie was baptized by his father at Ep- 
worth a few hours after his birth, and, by desire of his mother, 
was named John Benjamin, but the second name was never 
used by the family, although the fact itself is preserved in 
documents belonging to other relatives. Till he was eleven 
his mother was his instructor ; but in 171-1 he was removed to 
the Charter-House School, and in 1719 his brother Samuel be- 
came his tutor in the Westminster School. In 1720 he was 
elected to Christ Church, Oxford. Pie was ordained by Bishop 
Potter in 1725, at the age of twenty-two, and his excellent 
scholarship and efficiency as a teacher in the University secured 
him, in March, 1726, a Fellowship in Lincoln College. In 
February, 1727, he took his M.A. degree, and in August be- 
came his father's curate. September, 1728, he was ordained 
priest by Bishop Potter, and in November, 1729, the zealous 
young men he had gathered around him were first called Meth- 
odists. Until 1735 his time was chiefly spent as a tutor in the 
University ; he was with his father at Epworth in April, 1735, 
and in October, the same year, he sailed with General Ogle- 
thorpe to Georgia, in America. From February, 1736, to 
December, 1737, a period of nearly two years, John Wesley 
was most earnestly and diligently employed in that part of 
America, conducting religious meetings which correspond to 
Methodist class-meetings, and in carrying on a Sunday-school 
there forty years before he thought of such a work in England. 
Leaving America December 22, 1737, he arrived in England 
February 17, and early in the next month he met with Peter 
Bohler, from whom he began to learn the plan of salvation by 
faith more perfectly. On May 24, 1738, he experienced that 
change of heart which completely altered the whole course of 
his religious teaching; and the simplicity, earnestness, and 

46 The Wesle? Memorial Volume. 

courage which he manifested immediately afterward, in preach 
ing salvation by faith alone, was marked by so many demon 
strations of spiritual power, that thousands crowded to his 
ministry, whom he was obliged to address out of doors ; and 
in that way the Methodist, or United Societies, were com- 
menced in December, 1739. 

How the work grew and spread till it had reached all the 
great centers of population in England, history has recorded. 
Details of that marvelous work will be found recorded in the 
fourteen separate " Lives of John Wesley," which have been 
published, all of which are in print. 

For more than fifty years John Wesley labored in connec- 
tion with these Societies, and at the time of his death, March 
2, 1791, there were in the world belonging to the Methodist 
Societies, no less than one hundred and thirty-four thousand five 
hundred and forty-nine persons. At the present time, January, 
1879, there are probably not less than five millions of persons 
belonging to the Methodist Societies all over the world, while 
the total number of worshipers in the various churches and 
chapels belonging to Methodism is probably not less than fifteen 
millions of persons every Sabbath day. Truly may we say in the 
words of Mr. Wesley himself, " What hath God wrought ! " 

The sixteenth child on the roll of the Epworth Wesleys was 
a son, who was born May 8, 1705. The registers having been de- 
stroyed, we do not know his name ; but the Rector has recorded 
the circumstances of his death in a letter he wrote to the Arch- 
bishop of York, in which he says : "On Wednesday, May 30, 
being the election day, great excitement prevailed, and during 
the night his nurse overlaid the child, and in the morning she 
found him dead in bed. He was buried the same evening." 
This child has not been noticed by any other biographer of the 
Wesley family. 

Martha Wesley was the seventeenth child of that family. 
The registers being burned, we have only circumstantial evidence 
by which to determine the time of her birth, which appears to 

The Wesley Family. 47 

have taken place in the autumn of the year 1706. From in- 
fancy she was deeply attached to her brother John, whom she 
resembled in person, manners, and handwriting, in the most 
remarkable way. Dr. Adam Clarke, who knew them both per- 
sonally, said that in their countenances they could not be dis- 
tinguished from each other. She spent much time with her 
uncle Matthew, in London, where she was introduced to a young 
Oxford student, Westley Hall, one of her brother John's pupils, 
to whom she was married in the summer of 1735. A more 
unfortunate marriage was, perhaps, never recorded. The narra- 
tive of her married life, as published in " Memorials of the 
Wesley Family," is one of extreme sadness and suffering. She 
was left a widow in 1776, after which period her brother John 
took care of her. She was a woman of considerable learning, 
deep piety, wonderful patience, and of captivating speech. She 
was a great favorite with the learned Dr. Samuel Johnson, the 
leviathan of literature, to whose society she was frequently in- 
vited, occasionally with her brother John, and her niece, Miss 
Sarah Wesley. She had a large family, but all her children 
died young. She survived her brother John only four months. 
She was the last survivor of all the nineteen children of her 
mother. John Wesley left her a legacy of £10, but the Meth- 
odists of 1791 were too poor to find so large a sum, and she died 
without receiving the amount. She was interred in the same 
vault as her brother John, being in her eighty-fifth year. 

Charles Wesley, A.M., the poet of Methodism, was born 
December 18, 1707. It is a curious fact that he did not know 
his own age, and his brother John and sister Martha both dif- 
fered in their opinion concerning his age. It was not till about 
one hundred and forty years after his birth that a letter was found, 
written by his father in 1709, by which the age of Charles is satis- 
factorily determined. He is there by implication said to have been 
fourteen months old when the rectory-house was burned down in 
February, 1709. Charles was prematurely born, and he lay 
wrapped up in wool during several weeks without active con- 

48 The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 

sciousness until the exact time when he should have been born ; 
then he began to cry. He was feeble and delicate during all his 
long life. Educated by his mother till he was nine years old, 
he was then, in 1716, sent to Westminster School. He was there 
when Garrett Wesley, Esq., of Dangan Castle, Ireland, wanted 
to adopt him as his heir. Charles determined, after several 
years' entreaty, to refuse the adoption ; had he accepted, it is 
more than probable England would have had no Methodists, 
but the Wesleys might have become rich and great. 

Charles Wesley accepted ordination at Oxford in 1735, where 
he had studied since 1726 ; the following Sunday he was 
ordained priest by Dr. Gibson, Bishop of London. In Oc- 
tober of the same year he accompanied General Oglethorpe 
to Georgia, in the United States of America, as his private 
secretary. Charles brought dispatches to England from the 
Governor of the Colony in less than a year after his first 
arrival, and he did not return to America. He was afflicted 
with weakness and disease for several years. In May, 1738, 
while confined to his bed with pleurisy, at the house of T. Bray, 
in Little Britain, he entered into the liberty of the children 
of God. His conversion was clear, and it influenced for good 
in a marvelous manner all his future life. He first became an 
itinerant evangelist, then poet, then, uniting both vocations, he 
thus labored on for nearly fifty years, with results for good 
which are marvelous in every respect. For fifty years after 
his death his manuscript journals were concealed in a sack ; no 
one knew of their existence. In 1841 they were found and 
published, since which time we have known something of the 
variety and extent of his ministerial and pastoral labors. In 
1749 he married Miss Sarah Gwynne, a lady who would have 
been a rich heiress had she not joined herself to the despised 
Methodists ; but she never regretted the choice she made. They 
had a considerable family of children, but only three of them 
reached mature years, Charles, Sarah, and Samuel. As the 
poet of the sanctuary, Charles Wesley stands in the foremost 

The Wesley Family. 49 

place in all Christendom. He died in great peace, March 29, 
1788, leaving more than six thousand hymns as his legacy to 
the Church ; and quite recently, in 1876, the new street just 
made by the side of the house where he lived and died, has 
been named Wesley-street, in honor of his having resided there- 
He was in his eighty-first year, and was buried in the grave- 
yard of old Marylebone Church, where also are interred his 
wife and his two sons, Charles and Samuel. Mrs. Wesley sur- 
vived her husband thirty-four years, dying in 1822, at the ripe 
age of ninety-six years. 

Keziah Wesley was the nineteenth and last child on the Ep- 
worth roll. She was born one month after the burning of the 
rectory-house, on March 10, 1709, and about fifteen months aft- 
er her brother Charles. She never was very strong, but was 
thoroughly educated, and spent the few years of her maturer 
life as a teacher. Afterward she was much in attendance on 
her brother Charles during the periods of illness which fre- 
quently laid him aside before he was thirty years of age. Her 
last days were spent under the roof of Mr. and Mrs. Piers, of 
Bexley, John Wesley allowing them £50 a year for that pur- 
pose. She died at Bexley in March, 1741, within a few days 
after she had completed thirty-two years. She died unmarried. 
Hers was the last death in the family which their mother lived 
to know of. Sixteen months afterward Mrs. Wesley herself 
died in London. 

Of the three children of Chai-les Wesley, the first and sec- 
ond, Charles and Sarah, died in advanced life, both unmarried ; 
Charles was aged seventy-seven years, and Sarah only six 
months short of seventy years. Their biographies have been 
recently written for the first time in the " Memorials of the 
Wesley Family." 

Samuel Wesley, the youngest son of Charles and Sarah Wes- 
ley, is the only member of the fainjly from whom have de- 
scended the numerous families of^rie Wesleys now living. 
Samuel was born on St. Matthias's Day, February 24, 1766. 

50 The "Wesley Memobial Volume. 

He was born a musical genius. At the age of six years he had 
mentally composed, and when eight wrote out a complete ora- 
torio, the manuscript of which is still preserved by his daugh- 
ter, Miss Eliza Wesley. 

He was married, first in 1793. Out of many children 
born to him, there only reached maturity Charles Wesley, 
D.D., who for many years was sub-dean of the Chapel-Royal, 
St. James' Palace, and one of the chaplains to the Queen of En- 
gland, and who died in 1859 ; Emma Frances, their next child ; 
and the next, John William Wesley. These two died beyond 
the age of fifty. His second marriage took place about the year 
1810 to Sarah Souter. She became the mother of four sons 
and three daughters, all of whom are now living excepting 
one, the oldest, the late Dr. Samuel Sebastian Wesley, the emi- 
nent organist and composer, who died in April, 1876. Their 
father, Samuel Wesley, was one of the most accomplished or- 
ganists and musical composers England has ever known. The 
story of his life surpasses that of any romance for exciting in- 
terest and wonderful genius. He died in 1837, at the age of 
seventy-one years, and over his grave was sung an anthem by 
the most skilled choir in the metropolis, combining exquisite 
music which will never be surpassed. His distinguished son, 
the accomplished Dr. S. S. Wesley, named above, died at the 
age of sixty-six years. The other members of the family, all 
living, are Rosalind Wesley, married first to Robert Glenn, 
then to Oliver Simmonds ; Eliza Wesley, unmarried, residing 
in Islington, the same age as Queen Yictoria ; Matthias Eras- 
mus Wesley, a distinguished citizen in London, associate of the 
institute of civil engineers, and treasurer of the college of or- 
ganists in England ; John Wesley, who was some years a book- 
seller in Paternoster Row; Thomasine Wesley, married to 
Richard Alfred Martin; and Robert Glenn Wesley, married 
in 1858 to Juliana Benson. There are about sixty children 
and grandchildren living. 


THE history of the Church may be divided into three grand 
epochs, respectively distinguished by certain great men who 
were each the embodiment of some great religious fact. The 
first, beginning with the creation and fall, ends with the flood. 
Its representative men are Abel, Enoch, and ISToah. By the 
offering of blood through faith, Abel attested the need of atone- 
ment to obtain forgiveness, and the willingness of God to accept, 
through that medium, the sacrifice of a broken heart. By his 
translation — the reward of his holy walk with God through faith 
— Enoch prefigured the immortality of the soul and the resur- 
rection of the body. And ISToah, by faith in God's threatened 
judgment, and obedience to the divine command, saved himself, 
condemned the world, and proved the certainty of the death 
pronounced against the sinner, and the life promised to the 

The second epoch extends from the flood to the coming of 
Christ. Its representative men are Abraham, Moses, and Eli- 
jah. When, by faith, Abraham left his father's house to so- 
journ in the land of promise as in a strange country, and after- 
ward offered up his son through whom he received the fulfill- 
ment of the promises, he discovered beyond the grave a city 
which hath foundations, and witnessed to the power of grace 
to endure the severest trials by which God puts to the test the 
faith of his people. And when Moses, esteeming the reproach 
of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, refused a 
crown, he made evident the power of the same grace to deliver 
the godly out of the subtlest arts of the tempter ; and, as part 
recompense of the reward, he was made the deliverer of the 
Hebrews from their bondage in Goshen, the divinely appointed 

52 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

receiver and expounder of the only code of laws given by Jeho- 
vah to man, and the only one of the Old Testament prophets 
to whom Christ likened himself. The Tishbite raising to life 
again the dead son of the widow of Sarepta, triumphing over 
the priests of Baal in the trial by fire, standing upon the 
mount before the Lord when Jehovah passed by, and ascending 
to heaven in a chariot of fire borne aloft by horses of fire, dem- 
onstrated, as the name of the prophet implies, that Jehovah is 
God, and the fitness of the prophet himself to appear afterward 
with Moses on Tabor as a witness of the transfiguration of 
Jesus— the Lord's anointed Prophet, Priest, and King. 

These two epochs, embracing the periods of the altar, the 
tabernacle, and the temple, prepared the way for the third and 
last. The third — which is the fulfillment of the types and 
prophecies of the former — proclaimed the grandest of all truths, 
the culminating fact of all inspiration — " God is a Spirit : and 
they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." 
This epoch stretches from the birth of the Baptist until the 
Lord " come the second time without sin unto salvation." Its 
representative men, thus far, are John, the Baptist ; St. Peter, 
the great apostle to the Circumcision; St. Paul, the great 
apostle to the Gentiles ; Martin Luther, the great Protestant ; 
and John Wesley, the great Methodist Reformer. 

Our purpose not allowing us to notice the special work of the 
representative men of this epoch, except that of the Founder 
of Methodism, we proceed first to briefly epitomize what chiefly 
distinguishes the Wesleyan period. 

If asked what distinguishes "Wesleyan Methodism, we answer : 
It is a deliverance from the severe dogmas of Calvinism, from 
antinomianism, from lifeless forms, from the fiction of an 
unbroken apostolic succession, from pharisaic bigotry and intol- 
erance, and from bondage to the mere letter of ordinances. It 
restored and sanctioned lay-preaching — saying with Moses, in 
spirit, " Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, and 
that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them." It has organ- 

"Wesley and Methodism. 53 

ized an itinerant ministry, constrained by the love of Christ 
and willing to be all things to all men, if by any means it may 
save some. It contends for a pure and spiritual worship, 
believing that all times, all places, and all forms are accept- 
able to God, being sanctified by the prayers and faith of the 
worshiper. It has revived, in a restricted form, the ancient 
agapce, or love-feasts. It has restored, nnder the name of 
class-meetings, the meetings in which the early Church spoke 
often one to another to edify one another, and to provoke unto 
love and good works. It encourages and promotes revivals 
of religion as vital to the health and growth of the Church. It 
preaches a free and full salvation, justification by faith alone, 
carefulness to maintain good works as the evidence of the gen- 
uineness of faith and measure of final reward through grace, 
the witness of the Spirit to the believer's present acceptance 
with God, holiness of heart and life, devotedness to Christ, a 
burning love for souls, missionary zeal, a true catholicity 
toward all who bear the image of Christ, and an entire reliance 
upon the Holy Ghost and his gifts as the only source of spir- 
itual power. 

Methodism, however, as a system, was not the work of a day ; 
nor did it spring from the brain of Mr. Wesley a perfect sys- 
tem, as the fabled Athene, full-panoplied, from the brain of 
Jove. It has grown by the teachings of years into the grand 
system it now is. But to Mr. Wesley pre-eminently belongs 
the honor of being its heaven-appointed author and genius. 
Its illustrious founder, however, was not without obligation to 
others. It is questionable whether he would have met any 
thing like the unprecedented success that crowned his labors if 
he had not been seconded, from the first, by those who were 
specially qualified to push forward the great work to which 
they were mutually called of God. 

It has often been said that the early Methodist preachers in 
America were unlearned and ignorant men. In the January 
number of the " North American Review " for 1 876, in the 

54 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

leading article : " Religion in America, 1776-1876," Dr. Diman 
tells us, that with the sole exception of Coke, none of the preach- 
ers who established Methodism in America were educated at 
college. But this, however true of American, was not true of 
British Methodism, or of Methodism as a system. The system 
under which the early preachers in America labored was con- 
ceived and set on foot by profound thinkers, wise theologians, 
and eminent scholars. It is doubtful if an equal array of learn- 
ing, talent, and genius ever stood sponsors to any other Church 
since the days of the apostles — certainly never did such a variety 
of special and appropriate gifts as nurtured Methodism from 
its very birth. True it is, that its young manhood was tried by 
the waves of the stormy Atlantic in the ship which bore Wes- 
ley, the Moravians, and the Salzburgers, to Georgia, and by the 
persecutions which befell it in the wilderness on the banks of 
the Savannah. But its infancy was cradled in the rectory at Ep- 
worth and rocked by the hands of Susanna Wesley ; and its early 
youth was nurtured in the classic halls of Oxford. John Wesley, 
Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, William Morgan, James 
Hervey, and other scholars at Oxford were its earliest professors. 
It afterward numbered among its followers John Fletcher, Adam 
Clarke, Joseph Benson, Richard Watson, and Thomas Coke. 
And who are these % John Wesley, Fellow of Lincoln College, 
Presbyter of the Church of England— the eminent scholar, pro- 
found logician, with talents for organization and government 
that would have qualified him, had he been born a prince, to be 
the greatest monarch that ever sat on the throne of Alfred — to 
plan and develop the system, and to organize and direct its forces : 
Charles Wesley — whom Dean Stanley calls " sweet psalmist of 
the Church of those days," but whom we call the sweetest 
singer in Israel since David, Israel's great lyric poet, swept the 
chords of his tuneful harp— to write its songs : George White- 
field — the greatest pulpit orator, living or dead — to preach it to 
the multitude : John Fletcher of Madeley, prince of polemics — 
with wit well-tempered and keen as blade of Saladin, and with 

Wesley and Methodism. 55 

logic ponderous and crashing as mace wielded by arm of Coeur 
de Leon, but with heart as tender, and loving as a woman's — to 
defend its doctrines : Adam Clarke, the great encyclopedic and 
oriental scholar of his day, and the learned Joseph Benson — 
to write its Commentaries : Richard Watson, who " soared," 
said the great Robert Hall, "into regions of thought where no 
genius but his own can penetrate," and who was " the only sys- 
temizer," said Dr. Alexander of Princeton, " who in theology 
approached the eminence of Turretin, or reasoned like Paley, 
and descanted like Hall " — to write its Institutes of Theology : 
and Thomas Coke, of Jesus College, Oxford, doctor of civil 
law, and the father of modern missions — to carry Methodism 
" into the regions beyond." Such were the authors and illus- 
trators of Wesleyan Methodism. "Well may it challenge the 
Churches to present a greater array of various and peculiar 
gifts ! 

When these things are considered, it is no wonder that Meth- 
odism has made comparatively greater progress than any other 
evangelical Church. Its effects are seen and felt not only in 
the millions who have lived and died, and the millions now liv- 
ing in its communion, but in all the evangelical Churches from 
Wesley's time to the present. Martin Luther delivered the hu- 
man mind from the bondage and superstition of Rome ; John 
Wesley rescued English Protestantism from the dead formal- 
ism and sinful lethargy of national churchmanship. Luther re- 
vived the Pauline doctrine of justification ; Wesley, the Paul- 
ine doctrine of sanctification. Luther showed how we are 
justified by faith alone ; Wesley, how by faith in the blood of 
the Lamb we are cleansed from all sin. The early English 
Reformers, wisely separating from the Church of Rome, set 
up the Church of England, but unwisely held on to certain 
unscriptural dogmas which distinguished the corrupt Church 
from which they separated ; John Wesley, throttling these 
dogmas, proved that infallibility is an incommunicable preroga- 
tive of the Divine mind ; that apostolic succession depends not 

56 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

upon ordination by bishops claiming unbroken descent from 
St. Peter, but upon a call to the ministry sanctioned by the 
baptism of the Spirit, attested by the gifts, grace, and useful- 
ness of him who is called, and confirmed by his presbyters ; 
and that grace, whether the sacraments be administered by men 
with or without episcopal ordination, is communicated to all 
who receive them with faith in Christ. The same reformers 
rescued Englishmen from the civil power of the Pope, but de- 
livered them over to an imperious king ; John Wesley gave to 
this union of Church and State its deadly wound — a wound 
from which it has never recovered, and from which, sooner or 
later, it must die, whether its life goes out with the convulsive 
throes of a final struggle or quietly ebbs away with its latest 
gasp ; a wound which Wesley dealt it when he organized the 
Methodist Episcopal Church of America, and committed its 
ordinations and its sacraments to lay-preachers consecrated by 
the imposition of his own hands and the hands of his co-pres- 

The Methodism of Wesley is every-where felt outside 
of itself. Its true mission is acknowledged ; its claims un- 
disputed. Chalmers called it " Christianity in earnest." 
Judged by its spiritual power, by its marvelous effects in the 
awakening and conversion of souls, its scriptural and apostolic 
authority has received the highest and weightiest sanctions. 
IsTor is its mission ended. Its conquests have been greater 
in the past twenty-five years than in any other quarter of a 
century of its history. Its field is still " the world," not only 
the world of sinners, but its sister Churches, to lead them to a 
higher life and greater devotedness to Christ. And this will 
be its mission so long as Methodism is true to the work and 
genius of its founder, till some greater than Wesley arise, com- 
missioned of God to conduct the Church to higher and nobler 

The spirit of Mr. Wesley projected itself not only into the 
millions called by his name, but into all Christians of whatever 

Wesley and Methodism. 57 

name. The great enterprises of the evangelical Churches 
which have distinguished the last century and a half received 
their origin and impetus from his labors and zeal. Mr. "Wes- 
ley was a writer and distributer of tracts long before the 
Society in Paternoster Row had an existence. John Wesley 
and Thomas Coke, seventeen years before the Religious Tract 
Society of London was formed, organized the first Tract So- 
ciety the world ever had. Methodism gave birth to the Naval 
and Military Bible Society — the first Bible Society that was 
ever formed, years before the organization of the British 
and Foreign Bible Society. The great missionary awakening 
belongs to the Wesleyan period. The London Missionary 
Society and the Church Missionary Society are traced directly 
to Mr. Wesley and his preachers. At the old Foundery in 
Moorfields Mr. Wesley projected and started the first Medical 
Dispensary the world had ever known. John Wesley and Adam 
Clarke founded the first Strangers' Friend Society, in 1789. 
Before Bell and Lancaster, Wesley provided day schools for 
the education of the children of the poor. And children were 
gathered by Mr. Wesley into a Sabbath-school in Savannah 
nearly fifty years before Robert Raikes had a Sabbath-school 
in Gloucester. The leaders of the great revivals of the pres- 
ent day have all drank into his spirit. John Wesley preaches 
in the lay-sermons of Moody ; Charles Wesley sings in the 
songs of Sankey. 

The power of Methodism as a pioneer spiritual force was 
long ago acknowledged. To awaken and convert sinners hard- 
ened in sin ; to reach the poor and outcast ; to occupy the out- 
posts, or to be thrown out as skirmishers in time of a general 
engagement with the powers of darkness — these, and things 
like these, were said to be its mission. But how different the 
judgment of the world at the close of the centennial of Meth- 
odism ! Methodism, especially in America, has been the pio- 
neer Church. Its axmen have plunged into the wilderness, 
and with sturdy strokes felled the trees of its forests. Its plow- 

58 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

shares have turned up the virgin soil; its husbandmen have 
not only committed the precious seed to the furrow, watered 
the tender plant, kept it free from weeds, and watched its 
growth with sleepless care, but they have thrust in the sharp 
sickle, reaped down the fields bending to the harvest, gathered 
the loaded sheaves into barns, and from their great granaries 
supplied famishing millions with the bread of life. Method- 
ism, in its great revivals, has been to the nations like the river 
Nile. It has often overflowed its banks and spread itself far 
and wide. Its fertilizing waters have enriched and softened 
the hard soil beneath, and prepared it to receive into its yield- 
ing bosom the harvest-bearing seed; and, like the same Egyp- 
tian river, these overflows, in their results, have been perennial. 
Methodism, too, has not only carried the war into the ene- 
my's country, but taken his strongholds, and fortified and held 
the places it has won. It has not only blasted the rock out of 
the quarry, but given form and beauty to the shapeless mass. 
Nor is its elasticity as a working power confined and fettered 
by forms and precedents. The swaddling-bands of the cradle 
have long since been laid aside ; the toga-prmtexta of childhood 
exchanged for the toga-virilis of manhood. That man, indeed, 
but little understands the true genius of Wesleyan Methodism 
who does not see that the wonderful elasticity by which it 
adapts itself to times, and places, and circumstances, is one of 
the chief characteristics which its common-sense founder save 
to it from its beginning. Whitefield preaches in the open air 
and shocks Wesley by his irregularity ; Wesley, when driven 
from the pulpits of the Establishment, follows the example of 
his Oxford disciple and is soon heard addressing multitudes in 
Moorfields and on Kennington Common. At the old Found- 
ery Thomas Maxfield, without orders and without imposition 
of hands, warns sinners to repentance, expounds the word of 
God to the faithful, and arouses Wesley's indignation ; Wesley, 
acting on his mother's advice, hears Maxfield for himself. Per- 
suaded that the same divine power attends Maxfield's preach- 

Wesley and Methodism. 59 

ing which had attended his own, Wesley from that moment 
makes lay-preaching a part of the Methodist polity. Method- 
ism, extending its borders, soon numbers, " in the regions be- 
yond," thousands without the sacraments. Wesley, seeing that 
lay-ordination is a providential need, ordains lay-preachers for 
America and Scotland. The American colonies separate from 
the English hierarchy and become politically and ecclesias- 
tically independent; the ordination of Thomas Coke, to be 
General Superintendent, or Bishop, over the Methodist Soci- 
eties in the New World, immediately follows. And when these 
Societies, in General Conference assembled, erect themselves 
into a distinct and separate Church, John Wesley sanctions 
the deed, believing that the Methodist Episcopal Church in 
America is as much a New Testament Church as the apostolic 
Churches at Philippi and Thessalonica. 

All that has been here said about Mr. Wesley and Method- 
ism — and much more — is now confessed. Lord Macaulay long 
ago sentenced to oblivion those " books called Histories of 
England, under the reign of George II., in which the rise of 
Methodism is not even mentioned." To Mr. Wesley a pre- 
eminent place in history — especially in ecclesiastical and En- 
glish history — is now well-nigh universally assigned. The lit- 
erature of the eighteenth century was leavened by the optim- 
ism of Pope and Shaftesbury, and the skepticism of Hume and 
Gibbon. " Its theology," says Mr. Leslie Stephen, " was for 
the most part almost as deistical as the deists." The picture of 
English life drawn by Mr. Wesley in his " Appeal to Men of 
Keason and Religion," — the irreligion, false-swearing, Sabbath- 
breaking, corruption, drunkenness, gambling, cheating, disre- 
gard of truth among men of every order, and the profligacy of 
the army and immorality of the clergy — was no over-drawn 
picture. Leslie Stephen confesses that these things, " described 
in the language of keen indignation" by the pen of Wesley, 
"lead to a triumphant estimate of the reformation that has 
been worked by the Methodists." " The exertions of Wesley, 

60 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

and their success," he adds, "are of themselves a sufficient 
proof that a work was to be done of which neither the rational- 
ist nor the orthodox were capable." 

The religion of England, from the Revolution till the Meth- 
odist movement pervaded the Establishment with its spirit, 
says Mr. Lecky, in his " England in the Eighteenth Century," 
"was cold, selfish, and unspiritual." It was, however, as 
he tells us, " a period not without its distinctive excellences." 
"To this period," he writes, "belong the 'Alciphron' of 
Berkeley; the 'Analogy '.of Butler; the 'Defense of Natural 
and Revealed Religion ' of Clarke ; the ' Credibility of the 
Gospels ' of Lardner ; as well as the ' Divine Legation ' of War- 
burton, and the Evidential Writings of Sherlock, Leslie, and Le- 
land." But " the standard of the clergy " — especially outside of 
the great cities — " was low, and their zeal languid." Mr. Lecky, 
therefore, does not think it surprising that, at such a time, a 
movement like that of Methodism should have exercised a 
great power. " The secret of its success," he says, " was that 
it satisfied some of the strongest and most enduring wants of 
our nature, which found no gratification in the popular theology, 
and revived a large class of religious doctrines which had been 
long almost wholly neglected." "The utter depravity of 
human nature," he adds, " the lost condition of every man who 
is born into the world, the vicarious atonement of Christ, the 
necessity to salvation of a new birth, of faith, of the constant 
and sustaining action of the Divine Spirit upon the believer's 
soul, are doctrines which, in the eyes of the modern evangelical, 
constitute at once the most vital and the most influential por- 
tions of Christianity ; but they are doctrines which, during the 
greater part of the eighteenth century, were seldom heard 
from a Church of England pulpit. The moral essays, which 
were the prevailing fashion, however well suited they might 
be to cultivate the moral taste, or to supply rational mo" 
tives to virtue, rarely awoke any strong emotions of hope, 
fear, or love, and were utterly incapable of transforming 

Wesley aot> Methodism. 61 

the character, and arresting and reclaiming the thoroughly 

Nor was this all. The healthful influence of "Wesley upon 
politics — though not a politician — was no less significant. It 
was due to him more than to any other, that " the great moral 
precedent of an appeal to conscience in a political question " 
was first established. " The religious movement of "Wesley," 
says Leslie Stephen, " was so far removed from any political 
influence that "Wesley himself, and many of his followers, were 
strongly conservative ; and indeed the movement itself was, 
perhaps, a diversion in favor of the established order. It pro- 
vided a different channel for dangerous elements." And hence 
we are sure it was owing, in a great measure, to "Wesley's pow- 
erfully conservative influence upon the thought of the eight- 
eenth century that England was indebted for her escape from 
the infidelity, disorders, and horrors of the French Revolution. 

" The evangelical movement," says Mr. Lecky, " which di- 
rectly or indirectly originated with "Wesley, produced a general 
revival of religious feeling, which has incalculably increased 
the efficiency of almost every religious body in the community, 
while at the same time it has seriously affected party poli- 
tics." " The many great philanthropic efforts which arose, 
or at least derived their importance, from the evangelical move- 
ment, soon became prominent topics of parliamentary debate ; 
but they were not the peculiar glory of any political party, and 
they formed a common ground on which many religious de- 
nominations could co-operate." 

The writings of Yoltaire and the Encyclopaedists, the meta- 
physics of Oondillac and Helvetius, and "the wild social 
dreams" of Rousseau threatened "the very foundations of 
society and of belief." " A tone of thought and feeling," says 
Mr. Lecky, "was introduced into European life which could 
only lead to anarchy, and at length to despotism, and was be- 
yond all others fatal to that measured and ordered freedom 
which can alone endure. Its chief characteristics were, a hatred 

62 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

of well-constituted authority, an insatiable appetite for change, 
a habit of regarding rebellion as the normal as well as the 
noblest form of political self-sacrifice, a disdain of all compro- 
mise, a contempt for all tradition, a desire to level all ranks and 
subvert all establishments, a determination to seek progress, not 
by the slow and cautious amelioration of existing institutions, but 
by sudden, violent, and revolutionary change. Religion, prop- 
erty, civil authority, and domestic life, were all assailed ; and 
doctrines incompatible with the very existence of government 
were embraced by multitudes with the fervor of a religion. 
England, on the whole, escaped the contagion. Many causes 
conspired to save her, but among them a prominent place must, 
I believe, be given to the new and vehement religious enthusi- 
asm which was at that very time passing through the middle 
and lower classes of the people, which had enlisted in its 
service a large proportion of the wilder and more impetuous 
reformers, and which recoiled with horror from the anti- 
Christian tenets that were associated with the Revolution in 

While the revolutionary spirit, which was of foreign birth, 
was thus menacing the established order, and seeking to intro- 
duce political and religious chaos, England was threatened from 
within by dangers scarcely less portentous. The great me- 
chanical inventions, " which changed with unexampled rapidity 
the whole course of English industry, and in a little more than 
a generation created manufacturing centers unequaled in the 
world," gave rise to an angry contest between capital and la- 
bor, between rich and poor, that " brought with it some polit- 
ical and moral dangers of the gravest kind." "But few 
thinkers of any weight," says Mr. Lecky, "would now deny 
that these evils and dangers were greatly underrated by most 
of the economists of the last generation." " The true great- 
ness and welfare of nations," he adds, " depend mainly on the 
amount of moral force that is generated within them. Society 
never can continue in a state of tolerable security when there 

Wesley and Methodism. 63 

is no other bond of cohesion than a mere money tie; and it 
is idle to expect the different classes of the community to join 
in the self-sacrifice and enthusiasm of patriotism if all unselfish 
motives are excluded from their several relations. Every 
change of conditions which widens the chasm and impairs the 
sympathy between rich and poor cannot fail, however bene- 
ficial may be its other effects, to bring with it grave dangers to 
the State. It is incontestable, that the immense increase of 
manufacturing industry and of the manufacturing population 
has had this tendency ; and it is, therefore, I conceive, pecul- 
iarly fortunate that it should have been preceded by a relig- 
ious revival which opened a new spring of moral and religious 
energy among the poor, and at the same time gave a powerful 
impulse to the philanthropy of the rich." 

But these benefits, good as they were, were not, in Mr. 
Lecky's opinion, the greatest triumphs of the Methodist re- 
vival. Its chief triumphs, he thinks, " were the consolation 
it gave to men in the first agonies of bereavement, its support 
in the extremes of pain and sickness, and, above all, its stay in 
the hour of death." These results, he remarks, were in some 
sort effected for the bereaved and dying by the teachings and 
ceremonies of the priests of Rome. But this was done, he 
believes, by connecting absolution indissolubly with complete 
submission to their sacerdotal claims ; and, in doing this, the 
Catholic priests framed what Mr. Lecky calls " the most formi- 
dable engine of religious tyranny that has ever been employed 
to disturb or subjugate the world." The work of Mr. Wes- 
ley and the evangelists, he says, was to destroy this engine of 
priestcraft. It was they who taught that the intervention of 
no human being, and of no human rite, is necessary in the hour 
of death. It was they who demonstrated that they could " ex- 
ercise a soothing influence not less powerful than that of the 
Catholic priest." "The doctrine of justification by faith," 
adds Mr. Lecky, " which directs the wandering mind from all 
painful and perplexing retrospect, concentrates the imagination 

64 The Wesley Memokial Volume. 

on one Sacred Figure, and persuades the sinner that the sins of 
a life have in a moment been effaced, has enabled thousands to 
encounter death with perfect calm, or even with vivid joy, 
and has consoled innumerable mourners at a time when all 
the commonplaces of philosophy would appear the idlest of 

" This doctrine," continues Mr. Lecky, " had fallen almost 
wholly into abeyance in England, and had scarcely any place 
among realized convictions, when it was revived by the evan- 
gelical party. It is impossible to say how largely it has con- 
tributed to mitigate some of the most acute forms of human 
misery. Historians, and even ecclesiastical historians, are too 
apt to regard men simply in classes, or communities, or corpo- 
rations, and to forget that the keenest of our sufferings as well 
as the deepest of our joys take place in those periods when we 
are most isolated from the movements of society. Whatever 
may be thought of the truth of the doctrine, no man will ques- 
tion its power in the house of mourning and in the house of 
death. ' The world,' wrote Wesley, ' may not like our Meth- 
odists and evangelical people, but the world cannot deny that 
they die well.' " 

Mr. Leslie Stephen says that "Wesleyanism is, in many 
respects, by far the most important phenomenon of the eight- 
eenth century," and that "its reaction upon other bodies 
was as important as its direct influence." Mr. Buckle, the 
skeptical author of the " History of Civilization in England," 
confidently affirms that the effects of Wesleyanism upon the 
Church of England were hardly inferior to the effects exerted 
by Protestantism, in the sixteenth century, upon the Church 
of Rome. And when he compares the success of Wesley, 
whom he calls " the first of theological statesmen," with the 
difficulties which Wesley surmounted, Mr. Buckle is of the 
opinion that Macaulay's celebrated estimate of the founder of 
Methodism is hardly an exaggeration, when that great essayist 
and historian pronounced Wesley's "genius for government 

Wesley and Methodism. 65 

not inferior to that of Richelieu." By the great Methodist 
theological statesman was effected, " after an interval of two 
hundred years," what Mr. Buckle calls " England's second spir- 
itual Reformation." 

But in this connection we must not fail to notice what 
Buckle intended as a 'fling at Methodism. He condemns it for 
its " mental penury," because it has produced no other equal 
to John Wesley. This is no reflection on Methodism : it is 
directly the greatest compliment to Mr. Wesley, and indirectly 
equally so to Methodism. As well condemn the " mental 
penury" of Christianity, because it has produced no greater 
apostle than St. Paul ; or the " mental penury " of the Ref orm- 
atron, because it has produced no greater reformer than Martin 
Luther. The truth is, neither Methodism nor the whole 
Christian Church has had more than one John "Wesley since 
the days of the apostles. As Mount Everest lifts its tall head 
not only above every other peak of the Himalayas, but above 
the tallest peak of ever}>- other mountain range in the wide 
world, so does John Wesley, as a revivalist and reformer, tower 
not only above the other great men of Methodism, but above 
the greatest in all the other Churches of Christendom. " Tak- 
ing him altogether," writes his latest biographer, Mr. Tyer- 
man, " Wesley is sui generis. He stands alone : he has had no 
successor ; no one like him went before ; no contemporary was a 
co-equal." " A greater poet," writes Dr. Dobbin, of the Church 
of England, " may arise than Homer or Milton ; a greater theo- 
logian than Calvin ; a greater philosopher than Bacon ; a 
greater dramatist than any of ancient or modern fame ; but a 
greater revivalist of the Churches than John Wesley — never ! " 

The time, indeed, is not distant when every historian who 
regards the truth of history, or respects the judgment of his 
contemporaries and posterity, will give to Mr. Wesley his true 
place in both ecclesiastical and English history. High-church- 
men, against whose bigotry and intolerance he protested ; 
rationalists and infidels, whose skepticism he refuted ; poets, 

66 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

historians, and essayists, whose irreligion he condemned ; and 
statesmen and philosophers, whose loose morality he assailed ; 
have been slow to acknowledge his powerful influence upon 
almost every phase of English thought. But the time will 
come — if it has not already come — when all will say, with Mr. 
Lecky : " If men may be measured by the work they have ac- 
complished, John Wesley can hardly fail to be regarded as the 
greatest figure who has appeared in the religious history of the 
world since the days of the Reformation." "With the same 
great writer, British and American authors will confess the 
obligation of England and America to those religious teachers 
who, " while the politicians were doing so much to divide, were 
doing so much to unite, the two great branches of the English 
race." With this greatest of English historians since the 
death of Macaulay they will see — though like him they may 
think it " a strange thing " — how it was " that, in spite of civil 
war and of international jealousy, a movement which sprang 
in an English university should have acquired so firm a hold 
over the hearts and intellects of the American people." And 
to this we add, they will further see how it was, that, by a re- 
ciprocal influence, the English people, forgetting the same 
enmities and conflicts, have been drawn so closely to their 
American cousins. 

The most brilliant essayists and historians who, since Wes- 
ley's times, have written specifically on English thought and 
English civilization, have been for the most part rationalists 
and skeptics. It is not to be expected that they who are such 
will in all things treat with fairness one with whose religious 
convictions they have no sympathy; whose enthusiasm they 
call fanatacism ; and whose holy life they denounce as asceti- 
cism. What Mr. Wesley magnified as of chiefest importance 
is foolishness to them. It cannot be understood by them, be- 
cause it is only spiritually discerned. Wesley's experience in 
the things of God is a mark for their wit and ridicule. Justi- 
fication by faith alone, the new birth, the witness of the 

"Wesley and Methodism. 67 

Spirit, heaven and hell, the resurrection of the dead, and 
eternal judgment, are with them figments worthy to be classed 
with the vain delusions of an effete mythology. Having no 
belief in the eternal verities which with Wesley were convic- 
tions, they regarded his writings and teachings, while weighing 
their influence on English thought and civilization, solely in 
the light of their own deistical or infidel philosophy, and the 
language of those who are considered the great masters of 
English prose. Judged by their standard, Wesley has exerted 
no beneficial influence on civilization, like Voltaire and Paine, 
or on literature, like Rousseau and Hume. He added nothing, 
they tell us, to the philosophy, nor did he add any thing to 
the literature, of his age. He added nothing to its so-called 
philosophy, it is true ; but he rescued many thousands from its 
poison and death. And did he add nothing to its civilization ? 
To lead a blameless life in a corrupt age, and by precept and 
example turn thousands from profligacy and vice to virtue and 
holiness — did this, and a great deal more that Wesley accom- 
plished in Church and State, add nothing to the civilization 
of England ? 

The writings of John Wesley, it is true, have not the splen- 
did diction of the infidel author of " The Decline and Fall," or 
the classic eloquence of that other infidel historian who traced 
the history of England from its beginnings down to the close 
of the reign of James II., last of the Stuart kings. But they 
have been read by millions now testing, beyond the grave, the 
realities of the things in which Wesley believed, and by mill- 
ions more now living whose religion and lives have been 
molded by the great truths which he preached, and about 
which he wrote. Judged by this standard, did he not accom- 
plish far more than any other religious writer of his day? 
Are not his writings even now influencing more minds than 
the writings of any other uninspired religious teacher since 
Martin Luther wrote his Commentary on the Epistle to the 
Romans 3 Wesley, as no one will question, was a master of 

68 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

English thought and of the English tongue. Few in his day 
were more skilled in Hebrew, in Greek, and in Latin. To 
him, at an early day, the principal languages of the continent 
of Europe were familiar studies. Excellent grammars, in 
English, of several of these tongues — the old and the new — 
were made by Mr. Wesley at a time when, in England, gram- 
mars in English of the ancient tongues were things unknown, 
and philology was an undeveloped science. His translations 
from three of the languages of modern Europe are among the 
best hymns of the Wesleyan Hymn Book. He was not only a 
master of tongues, but a master of logic and rhetoric. His edu- 
cation was classic ; his culture all that the oldest English uni- 
versity, severe study, a retentive memory, and great intel- 
lectual powers, could bestow. If he had formed his style on 
the classic model of Tully's Epistles to Pomponius Atticus — if 
he had copied the best writers of the Augustan age of English 
literature — who doubts that he might have attained preemi- 
nence in the realm of letters ? Lord Macaulay says : " He was 
a man whose eloquence and logical acuteness might have ren- 
dered him eminent in literature." But all mere literary fame 
John Wesley sacrificed, and he sacrificed it for a purpose. He 
who would not wear " a fine coat " that he might satisfy the 
hungry with bread, laid aside " a fine style " that he might 
make the Gospel of our salvation plain to the miners of Corn- 
wall, the colliers of Kingswood, and the felons of Newgate. 
His words may not have been, in the judgment of his critics, 
" with excellency of speech," but they were " in demonstration 
of the Spirit, and of power." Like St. Paul — whom Wesley 
more nearly resembled than any other man has resembled that 
great apostle — Wesley was called a babbler by the Epicurean 
statesmen and philosophers of his times. The Gospel preached 
by Mr. Wesley was foolishness to Horace Walpole, but to 
millions it has been " Christ, the power of God and the wisdom 
of God." 

But let Mr. Leslie Stephen, the skeptical author of the 

Wesley and Methodism. 69 

" History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century," who 
tells us that "Wesley "added nothing to the stores of English 
rhetorical prose," and that his " writings produced nothing val- 
uable in themselves, either in form or substance," say what he 
really thinks of Mr. Wesley's literary powers. "It would be 
difficult," says this writer, " to find any letters more direct, forc- 
ible, and pithy in expression. He goes straight to the mark 
without one superfluous flourish. He writes as a man confined 
within the narrowest limits of time and space, whose thoughts 
are so well in hand that he can say every thing needful within 
those limits. The compression gives emphasis, and never causes 
confusion. The letters, in other words, are the work of one who 
for more than half a century was accustomed to turn to account 
every minute of his eighteen working hours." " Wesley's elo- 
quence," says this same writer, " is in the direct style, which 
clothes his thoughts with the plainest language. He speaks of 
what he has seen ; he is never beating the air, or slaying the 
dead, or mechanically repeating thrice-told stories, like most of 
his contemporaries. His arguments, when most obsolete in their 
methods and assumptions, still represent real thought upon ques- 
tions of the deepest interest to himself and his hearers." " We 
can fancy," he adds, " the venerable old man, his mind enriched 
by the experience of half a century's active warfare against 
vice, stained by no selfishness, and liable to no worse accusa- 
tion than that of a too great love of power, and believe that his 
plain, nervous language must have carried conviction and chal- 
lenged the highest respect." After thus writing, Mr. Leslie 
Stephen asserts that Wesley's " thoughts run so frequently in 
the same grooves of obsolete historical speculation'''' — the ital- 
ics are ours — " that he has succeeded in producing no single 
book satisfactory in a literary sense." And yet we venture to 
say that Wesley's plain, terse, and direct English had almost as 
much influence upon what Mr. Buckle calls "the cumbrous 
language and long-involved sentences " of the times which im- 
mediately preceded the great revivalist, as his preaching had 

70 The Wesley Memorial Volume.- 

upon a lethargic Church and a sinful world. For it was Wes- 
ley's powerful influence — secret, it is true, but none the less 
powerful — upon the literature of his day, which, more than 
any thing else, discarded the old, and introduced what Mr. 
Buckle calls " a lighter and simpler style " — a style " more rap- 
idly understood," adds Mr. Buckle, and " better suited to the 
exigencies of the age." 

But we are further told by Mr. Leslie Stephen that "Wes- 
ley's writings possess " nothing more than a purely historical 
interest ; " that Wesley's theology, because of its " want of 
any direct connection with speculative philosophy," is " con- 
demned to barrenness ; " that, having " no sound foundation in 
philosophy," Wesleyanism " has prevented the growth of any 
elevated theology, and alienated all cultivated thinkers." 

The above fairly represents much of the criticism to which 
Mr. Wesley and Methodism have been subjected. Its author 
belongs to a class of writers who can be somewhat just to 
Methodism when it comes into comparison with other forms 
of evangelical Christian thought. But while their testimony 
in that respect is invaluable — and we have seen what it is, 
for we have put them on the stand and heard their witness 
for Methodism and its founder — these writers see neither in 
Methodism nor in any other phase of thought which has 
the plenary inspiration of the Bible as its basis any thing ex- 
cept a weak and blind superstition. The facts of the great 
revival they affect to describe with the fidelity and accuracy of 
historians. But to them these facts are mere emotional phe- 
nomena, or phenomena which they ascribe to mere natural 
and secondary causes, and not to any supernatural and divine 

And has the great revival been " condemned to barrenness ? " 
Have all "cultivated thinkers" been "alienated" from it? 
Has Wesley .left no permanent influence on English thought? 
Do his writings possess " nothing more than a purely historical 
interest ? " How is it, then, that his followers are numbered 

Wesley and Methodism. 71 

by millions ? How is it that these are found all over tha Chris- 
tian world, numbering thousands whom the Christian world 
regards as " cultivated thinkers ? " If it has been " condemned 
to barrenness," what mean its myriad Christian temples ? its 
many hundred universities, and colleges, and seminaries of 
learning ? its many thousand educated men in the ministry, in 
law, in medicine, in philosophy, in science, and in government ? 
"What will one say of its thousand printing-presses? of its 
great publishing houses ? its newspapers, its magazines, its re- 
views ? its tracts and books ? its great benevolent institutions ? 
its orphan asylums? its homes for the poor and outcast? its 
great missionary and Sunday-school societies? What means 
the aggressive force which constantly enlarges its borders? 
How is it that in a little oyer a hundred years it has accom- 
plished results which are the wonder of the world? How 
is it that in many parts of the world, the old and the new, it is 
to-day increasing in a greater ratio than at any period since its 
beginning? What means its influence upon other Churches, 
upon their theology and practice ? Is Calvinism, or any other 
phase of Christian theology which Wesley combated, the 
same it was when Wesley began to write against it ? Have 
they not been greatly modified by Wesley's teachings, by Wes- 
ley's spirit, and by Wesley's catholicity ? Since Wesley spoke 
and wrote, and exemplified what he spoke and wrote by his 
own beautiful life, have not the evangelical Churches been 
drawing nearer and nearer together ? Are they riot more 
sweetly striving together for " the faith once delivered to the 
saints ? " Is there not a more harmonious endeavor to " keep 
the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace ? " 

And have Wesley's writings " nothing more than a purely 
historical interest ? " How is it that there are over a hundred 
thousand Methodist preachers now living, who have not only 
read Wesley's sermons, but studied them, prayed over them, and 
before received into the traveling connection been examined on 
them ? And who will say how many thousands more are now in 

72 The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 

heaven who did the same thing? And has this great army of 
itinerant and local preachers, the living and the dead, exer- 
cised no influence upon English thought ? And have not mill- 
ions of pages in newspapers, in magazines, in reviews, and in 
tracts and books, been written to illustrate, to defend, and to 
enforce the writings which Wesley left to his followers ? The 
writings of what other religious teacher outside of revelation 
have been so extensively read, or left a wider and deeper trace 
on the Anglo-Saxon mind and heart ? 

But what is English thought, about which we hear so much 
from a certain class of writers % With them it means not the 
old theology of Moses and St. Paul, nor even that of Socrates 
and Plato ; but it means the old philosophy of Leucippus, 
Democritus, and Lucretius, and of their disciples in skepticism, 
Hobbes and Hume, Yoltaire and Rousseau, Spencer and Dar- 
win. It means whatever is skeptical in thought, whatever its 
modifications may be, whether atheism, deism, infidelity, ration- 
alism, or whatever is included in what is called the speculative 
philosophy, and is opposed to the Bible as a written revelation 
of God and his will. This, with certain writers, is the whole 
of English thought. The " cultivated thinkers " are all found 
there, and nowhere else. Every thing else, provided it savor 
directly or indirectly of revealed religion, is excluded. And 
yet, perhaps, not all of revealed religion. For if one profess- 
ing to believe in the sacred Scriptures so interprets them as to 
exclude the divinity of Christ, the doctrine of human deprav- 
ity, the necessity of repentance, the new birth, the witness of 
the spirit, holiness, and the existence of heaven and hell, espe- 
cially the latter, he may be taken, by an act of philosophic 
grace, into the number of the " cultivated thinkers." ' Such an 
one is admitted into the charmed circle of speculative philoso- 
phy because he is only half a religionist at the most. He is 
not fully in the light of the true philosophy, but he is not alto- 
gether in darkness. There is hope that he may emerge out of 
the dim and shadowy twilight of a semi-philosophy into the 

Wesley and Methodism. 73 

bright and unclouded noon of the philosophy of " cultivated 
thinkers." Hence, perhaps, Samuel Clarke and Benjamin 
Hoadley have left some impress upon English thought ; upon it 
can be found no traces of Pbilip Doddridge and John Wesley. 
We thank God that these devoted ministers of the Lord "Jesus 
added nothing to English thought, as English thought is in- 
terpreted by the skeptics. As already noticed, the only influ- 
ence John Wesley exerted upon English thought in their 
sense of it, has been to save millions of the English-speak- 
ing race from its blight and its curse. Had it not been for 
Wesley's burning love of souls for whom Jesus died, and Ins 
apostolic zeal to pluck them as brands from the burning ; had 
it not been for his faithful Gospel-preaching in church and 
chapel, in barns and the open air ; and had it not been for the 
thoroughly evangelical tracts, and treatises, and hymns, and 
sermons which came trooping from his unresting pen, the so- 
called English thought would have embraced millions deliv- 
ered by Wesley's labors from its skepticism and death. 

If John Wesley has left no trace upon true English thought 
— not the English thought of the skeptics — how is it that his 
name, his life, and his labors are now filling a much larger 
space in the English literature of the day than those of any 
other uninspired Christian teacher that has ever lived ? How 
is it that these are so much the theme not only of the religious 
newspapers, and magazines, and reviews, and books issued 
from Methodist printing-presses and the printing-presses of 
other evangelical Churches, but of the secular histories and 
quarterlies of the times ? How is it that there is, at this mo- 
ment, a revival of thought on< his life and work all over the 
world ? How is it that so many, in other evangelical Churches, 
are emulating one another to do honor to his memory? How 
is it that even the skeptical historians of English thought and 
of English life — though they do not give to him the full place 
to which he is entitled — are yet assigning him, with Mr. 
Buckle, the chiefest place among " theological statesmen," and, 

74 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

with them all, the highest rank among Church revivalists and 
reformers? And how is it that the Established Church of 
England, from whose pulpits he was so rudely shut out, is 
now, though late, claiming him as her own — as the one to 
whom she is most indebted for deliverance from rationalism 
and French infidelity on the one hand, and a lifeless formalism 
and an arrogant claim to Popish infallibility on the other ? 

Witness England's recent tribute to the Wesleys ! A sculpt- 
ured memorial of John and Charles Wesley not long since 
was unveiled by Dean Stanley in Westminster Abbey. The 
worthy Dean, who delivered the address on the occasion, spoke 
of the Wesleys as those whom the Church of England de- 
lighted to honor, and hoped that no one would deny to them a 
place in that venerable mausoleum of England's noble dead. 
Fitting place for a sculptured memorial of the brothers ! For 
to none of the many eminent dead whose memory that splendid 
old Abbey perpetuates has England been more indebted than 
to John Wesley, the great Methodist reformer, and to Charles 
Wesley, the great Methodist lyric poet. ]N~or is all acknowledg- 
ment of England's indebtedness to the Wesleys a thing of such 
recent date. When the music of Charles Wesley, Jun., like the 
effect of David's harp on King Saul, revived the spirit of King 
George III., the old king, laying a hand on one of the shoul- 
ders of the musician, said : " To your uncle, Mr. Wesley, and 
your father, and to George Whitefield and the Countess of 
Huntingdon, the Church in this realm is more indebted than 
to all others." 

If the Bible is the inspired word of God ; if God out of 
Christ is a consuming fire ; if the Gospel of Christ is the pow- 
er of God unto salvation ; if, without faith in Christ as the 
only sacrifice for sin, no one can be delivered from its con- 
demnation and guilt ; if the blood of Christ alone can cleanse 
the defiled and polluted heart ; if the fruits of the Spirit are 
the only sure evidence of acceptance with God, and holiness 
the only fitness for an inheritance with the sanctified ; if Christ 

Wesley and Methodism. 75 

is judge of quick and dead ; and if believers in Christ are re- 
warded with the crown of eternal life, and all unbelievers pun- 
ished with the pains of eternal death — then an impress, greater 
than that made by any other Englishman, has "Wesley made 
upon the Anglo-Saxon mind and heart. If it be a supreme 
work to revive a lifeless Church and awake it to its true mis- 
sion on earth — to be instrumental in saving the greatest number 
of souls from death, and to exert the greatest and widest influ- 
ence for good while living, and, when dead, keep it alive by 
the recollection of a life of perfect consecration to Christ and 
unselfish devotedness to the best and highest interests of man, 
— then John Wesley must be regarded the greatest of English 
revivalists and reformers. And if, after death, to speak to 
millions of . the English-speaking race in the writings which 
one has left behind him with the same authority with which 
his utterances in life were received by comparatively a few 
thousand, be any evidence that one has left an impress upon 
English thought — then John Wesley, the founder of Meth- 
odism, has exercised a more powerful influence upon true 
English thought than any other Englishman, living or dead. 
Finally, if John Wesley, claiming the world as his parish, 
with no spirit of a sectarian and with no thought of founding 
a Church, has founded a great Church which has been instru- 
mental in winning more trophies to the Cross of Christ than 
any other — if he has infused his own apostolic spirit into the 
other evangelical Churches and made them better witnesses for 
Jesus and the resurrection — then John Wesley is not only 
" the greatest figure who has apppeared in the religious history 
of the world since the days of the Reformation," but since the 
days of the apostles. And such will be the deliberate judgment 
which the ages will pronounce upon the life and labors of 
John Wesley, "who devoted," says Lord Macaulay, "all his 
powers, in defiance of obloquy and derision, to what he sin- 
cerely considered the highest good of his species." 


THE Methodism of to-day will never be understood until the 
history of its founder is rightly understood ; and neither 
the history of Wesley himself, nor the character of his life- 
work, can ever be understood, until it is recognized that his life 
was divided into two distinct, and in many respects sharply-con- 
trasted, periods — the period preceding, and the period following 
the spring of 1738. Much confusion and error have arisen from 
failing to recognize the critical changes and the momentous de- 
velopments which have marked the course of certain statesmen, 
who have been unjustly accused of treachery, of holding at one 
and the same time a medley of conflicting opinions, and of hav- 
ing no honest and real principles at all. Similar confusion has 
arisen as to "Wesley's opinions and principles from failing to 
observe the fact to which I have referred. The opinions of his 
earlier years have often been attributed to him as his perma- 
nent convictions and principles, although he had abandoned 
them fifty years before his death, while the real principles 
which guided all his course as the founder of Methodism have 
apparently never been apprehended at all by many who have 
undertaken to pronounce on the subject both of Wesley him- 
self aftd of the community which he founded. It is my pres- 
ent purpose to exhibit, as clearly as I can, what We'sley was after 
his High-Church views were abandoned in 1738, and to indicate 
also, at least in part, how the Methodism which he founded was 
molded by the principles which he then adopted, and which 
became ever afterward the controlling principles of his life and 

Let 1738 be well marked. "Wesley's inner and essential High 
Churchmanship belongs to the period preceding that date. His 

Wesley and the Church of England. 77 

Clrurclimansliip in after-life, and through the space of half a 
century, included neither high sacramentarian doctrine nor serv- 
ile veneration for rubrics, nor any belief in either the virtue 
or the reality of what is commonly called " the apostolical suc- 

Wesleyan writers take their stand here. None have shown 
so distinctly and fully the rigid and excessive Churchmanship 
of Wesley up to the date 1738. But they insist that from 
that date every thing was essentially different, and that the 
essential difference very swiftly developed into striking results. 

The High Churchman, they argue, makes salvation to be di- 
rectly dependent on sacramental grace and apostolical succession. 
Whereas the Evangelical Believer — the man who has received 
the doctrine of salvation by faith as it was taught by Peter 
Bohler, and as it is understood by the Reformed Churches in 
general, learns from St. Paul that " faith cometh by hearing, 
and hearing by the Word of God." Hence, according to his 
conviction, the Christian salvation — justification, regeneration, 
and sanctification — must be realized by means of the " truth as 
it is in Jesus." Truth and life are for him indissolubly associ- 
ated. He cannot forget the words of the Word Himself : " Sanc- 
tify them through thy truth ; thy word is truth ; " and again, 
" I am the way, the truth, and the life ; " nor the words of St. 
Paul, when he speaks of himself and his fellow-workers as 
"by manifestation, of the truth commending" themselves "to 
every man's conscience in the sight of God." It is the truth 
in the sacraments, according to his view, which fills them with 
blessing to those who receive them with faith ; they are " signs 
and seals" — eloquent symbols and most sacred pledges — but 
they are not in and of themselves saturated with grace and life ; 
they are not the only organ and vehicle through which grace 
flows to the members of Christ's mystical body, altogether irre- 
spective of any divine truth apprehended and embraced by the 
mind and heart of the believer. 

They admit that, up to 1738, Wesley had been a High-Church 

78 The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 

Eitualist, but they insist that all his life afterward he taught 
the Evangelical doctrine of salvation by faith; that he very 
soon, and once for all, discarded the " fable," as he called it, of 
" apostolical succession ; " and that he presently gave up all that 
is now understood to belong to the system, whether theological 
or ecclesiastical, of High-Church Anglo-Catholicism. "The 
grave-clothes of ritualistic superstition," they say, " still hung 
about him for awhile, even after he had come forth from the 
sepulcher, and had, in his heart and soul, been set loose and 
free ; and he only cast them off gradually. But the new prin- 
ciple he had embraced led," as they affirm, " before long to his 
complete emancipation from the principles and prejudices of 
High-Church ecclesiasticism." 

Such language as this may seem to High Churchmen harsh, 
and perhaps uncharitable, but the one question really is, how 
far it is warranted by the history and recorded sentiments of 
Wesley himself after the year 1738. Modern Wesleyans can- 
not be expected to be more High-Church than their founder. 
I propose, accordingly, to show now, in some detail, what Wes- 
ley did actually claim and hold as to matters ecclesiastical 
during the half -century which followed his " conversion." 
Ecclesiastical claims and theories are founded on theological 
dogmas. We shall see how the newly-received doctrines of 
grace and of faith gave color and form to the ecclesiastical prin- 
ciples of the founder of Methodism. 

It is hard to conceive views as to the public ministry of the 
word, and the government and discipline of the Church, more 
hazardous and untenable, according to the standard of High 
Churchmen, than those which were maintained by John 

He held, as I will presently show, after the year 1745, that 
the office of presbyter or priest and that of bishop being orig- 
inally and essentially one, he, as a presbyter, had the abstract 
and essential right to ordain presbyters, in a new sphere — a 
sphere of his own creation, so to speak — if by his so doing 

Wesley and the Chuech of England. 79 

neither lie nor they whom he ordained became intruders into 
other communions, or trespassers within other jurisdictions. 
Acting on this principle, he ordained " presbyters," and even 
" superintendents," * or bishops, for America ; he ordained 
presbyters for Scotland; and eventually even conceived him- 
self to be constrained to ordain presbyters to assist him in ad- 
ministering the sacraments to his own Societies in England, one 
of his strong pleas being, that the clergy, in many instances, 
would not admit his people to the Lord's Supper. Indeed, 
there is high authority — the authority of Samuel Bradburn, 
one of his ablest and most eminent preachers — for saying that 
Wesley went so far, at the Conference of 1788, as to consecrate 
one of his English preachers as "superintendent," or bishop. 
The Methodist Conference did but extend this principle to 
its obvious consequences when, a few years after his death, 
those of them whom Wesley had already ordained were pre- 
sumed to have the power to share their prerogatives with their 
brethren and partners in common charge of the Societies, so 
that all the Societies which desired it might receive the sacra- 
ments from their own preachers. 

Quite as radical, indeed, as any opinion of a modern Meth- 
odist on these points, and far more startling, as coming from 
John Wesley, is the following passage contained in the Min- 
utes of Conference for the year already noted, 1745 : 

Q. 1. Can he be a spiritual governor of the Church who is not a be- 
liever nor member of it ? 

A. It seems not: though he may be a governor in outward things by a 
power derived from the King. 

Q. 2. What are properly the laws of the Church of England ? 

A. The rubrics ; and to those we submit as the ordinance of man, for 
the Lord's sake. 

* In Wesley's time, the senior preacher in charge was called " assistant," not, as 
now, "superintendent," and the junior preachers, "helpers." "Superintendent," 
in Wesley's ecclesiastical nomenclature, meant " bishop ; " he held, of course, 
that his "superintendents," or "bishops," were not in order, but only in offioe, 
distinguished from presbyters. 

80 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

Q. 3. But is not the will of our governors a law ? 

A. No ; not of any governor, temporal or spiritual. Therefore, if any 
bishop wills that I should not preach the Gospel, his will is no law to 

Q. 4. But what if he produce a law against your preaching ? 

A. I am to obey God rather than man. 

Q. 5. Is Episcopal, Presbyterian, or Independent church government 
most agreeable to reason ? 

A. The plain origin of Church government seems to be this. Christ 
sends forth a preacher of the Gospel. Some who hear him, repent and 
believe the Gospel. They then desire him to watch over them, to build 
them up in the faith, and to guide their souls in the paths of righteous- 

Here, then, is an independent congregation — subject to no pastor but 
their own; neither liable to be controlled in things spiritual by any 
other man or body of men whatsoever. 

But soon after, some from other parts, who are occasionally present 
while he speaks in the name of Him that sent him, beseech him to come 
over to help them also. Knowing it to be the will of God, he consents, 
yet not till he has conferred with the wisest and holiest of his congrega- 
tion, and, with their advice, appointed one or more who have gifts and 
grace to watch over the flock till his return. 

If it pleases God to raise another flock in the new place, before he 
leaves them he does the same thing, appointing one whom God has fitted 
for the work to watch over these souls also. In like manner, in every 
place where it pleases God to gather a little flock by His Word, he ap- 
points one in his absence to take the oversight of the rest, and to assist 
them of the abilities which God giveth. These are deacons, or servants 
of the Church, and look on the first pastor as their common father. 
And all these congregations regard him in the same light, and esteem 
him still as the shepherd of their souls. 

These congregations are not absolutely independent ; they depend on 
one pastor, though not on each other. 

As these congregations increase, and as their deacons grow in years 
and grace, they need other subordinate deacons or helpers, in respect of 
whom they may be called presbyters or elders, as their father in the Lord 
may be called the bishop or overseer of them all. 

Q 6. Is mutual consent absolutely necessary between the pastor and 
his flock ? 

A. No question. I cannot guide any soul unless he consent to be 

Wesley and the Church of England. 81 

guided by me. Neither can any soul force me to guide him if I consent 

Q. 7. Does the ceasing of this consent on either side dissolve that re- 
lation ? 

A. It must, in the very nature of things. If a man no longer consent 
to be guided by me, I am no longer his guide: I am free. If one will 
not guide me any longer, I am free to seek one who will. 

This remarkable extract contains implicitly the whole theory 
of Methodist government and discipline, regarded as an or- 
ganization created and controlled by "Wesley for the purpose 
of converting souls and of watching over his converts. Wes- 
ley regarded himself as a sort of bishop, his " assistants " or 
chief preachers in charge as quasi-presbyters, and the junior or 
probationary " helpers " as a sort of deacons. If he never car- 
ried out this conception thoroughly in practice, and especially 
never conceded to his chief preachers generally the distinct 
status of presbyters, it was because he cherished, more or less, 
though with heavy doubts and misgivings, the hope that the 
bishops of his Church might be brought to give virtual effect 
to his desires, and that Methodism might become an affiliated 
branch of the Church of England. 

It is true, indeed, and it is very singular, that even at the 
time he penned the remarkable extract just given, Wesley still 
retained some relics of his ecclesiastical High Churchmanship. 
The date of the minute is August, 1745. On December 27, of 
the same year, he prints in his journal a letter to his brother-in- 
law, Hall — a letter well-known and often quoted by Churchmen 
— in which he upholds the doctrines of apostolical succession, 
and of the three-fold order of the ministry. On the very next 
page of his journal, however, under date January 20, 1746 — 
and no doubt the juxtaposition was calculated and intended by 
the journalist — he declares and publishes his definitive renun- 
ciation of these self-same views, as the result of reading Lord 
(Chancellor) King's "Account of the Primitive Church." 
From this conclusion he never afterward swerved. It is well 

82 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

known that in a letter to his brother Charles many years 
afterward, (1785,) he spoke of " the uninterrupted succession " 
as " knowing it to be a fable, which no man ever did or can 

During his subsequent course he repeatedly speaks of himself 
as " a Scriptural Episcopos ; " and, as we have seen, he acted 
on this persuasion. 

In the " Disciplinary Minutes " for 1746, it is said, that the 
Wesleys and their helpers may, " perhaps, be regarded as extra- 
ordinary messengers, designed of God to provoke the others 
to jealousy." The following suggestive question and answer 
are also given in the same' Minutes : 

Q. Why do we not use more form and solemnity in the receiving of a 
new laborer ? 

A. "We purposely decline it : first, because there is something of stateli- 
ness in it ; second, because we would not make haste. We desire to 
follow Providence as it gradually opens. 

The Minutes for 1747 contain the following decisive series 
of questions and answers : — 

Q. 6. Does a church in the New Testament always mean a single 
congregation ? 

A. We believe it does. "We do not recollect any instance to the con- 

Q. 7. What instance or ground is there, then, in the New Testament, 
for a National Church ? 

A. We know none at all. We apprehend it to be a merely political 

Q. 8. Are the three orders of bishops, priests, and deacons plainly 
described in the New Testament ? 

A. We think they are ; and believe they generally obtained in the 
Churches of the apostolic age. 

Q. 9. But are you assured that God designed the same plan should 
obtain in all Churches throughout all ages ? 

A. We are not assured of this ; because we do not know that it is as- 
serted in Holy Writ. 

Wesley and the Chubch of England. 83 

Q. 10. If this plan were essential to a Christian Church, what would 
become of all the foreign Reformed Churches ? 

A. It would follow they are no parts of the Church of Christ ; a con- 
sequence full of shocking absurdity. 

Q. 11. In what age was the divine right of Episcopacy first asserted 
in England ? 

A. About the middle of Queen Elizabeth's reign. Till then all the 
bishops and clergy in England continually allowed and joined in tke 
ministration of those who were not episcopally ordained. 

Q. 12. Must there not be numberless accidental varieties in the gov- 
ernment of various Churches ? 

A. There must, in the nature of things. For as God variously dis- 
penses his gifts of nature, providence, and grace, both the offices them- 
selves and the officers in each ought to be varied from time to time. 

Q. 13. Why is it that there is no determinate plan of church-govern- 
ment appointed in Scripture ? 

A. Without doubt, because the wisdom of God had a regard to this 
necessary variety. 

Q. 14. Was there any thought of uniformity in the government of all 
Churches until the time of Constantine ? 

A. It is certain there was not, and would not have been then had men 
consulted the Word of God only. 

So far "Wesley had traveled since 1738 ; so thoroughly differ- 
ent were his views in 1747 from what they had been in 1735 ; 
so profound was the contradiction between the principles of 
the Oxford Methodist, and of the founder of the Methodist 
Connection of Societies. The former was a priest and pastor 
among " the schools of the prophets," devoted to the rubrics 
and order of his Church ; the latter was an itinerant evangelist 
for his nation and the world, loving his National Church, in- 
deed, but regarding it as a " political institution," and always 
prepared to sacrifice, if it were necessary, his Churchmanship 
to what he regarded as his higher and wider mission as a 
preacher and teacher of the Gospel to all men. Nearly forty 
years later, in 1785, in the letter to his brother Charles, lately 
referred to, Wesley re-affirms all that he had said in the " Min- 
utes " I have quoted, and even speaks more decisively as to the 

84 The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 

definition and character of the Church of England. It is true 
that one of his latest sermons, that on "The Ministerial 
Office," preached in 1790, flames with indignation against un- 
authorized intruders into the office of the " priesthood," whom 
he compares to Korah and his fellows. But it must be remem- 
bered that he regarded ordination by himself, conferred on one 
of his preachers, as equally valid with any that might have 
been bestowed by the hands of any bishop of whatever Church. 
What he objected to in some of his preachers was, that they 
had presumed to administer the sacraments when he had not 
appointed them. " Did we ever appoint you," he asks in this 
sermon, "to administer sacraments, to exercise the priestly 
office ? Where did I appoint y'ou to do this ? Nowhere 
at all!" 

Nevertheless, in 1775, writing to a Tory statesman, Wesley 
described himself as " a High Churchman, the son of a High 
Churchman ; " and this fact is sometimes brought forward as 
evidence that he retained through life, substantially unchanged, 
the principles of his Oxford Ritualistic Churchmanship. The 
more, however, the question is investigated, the more untena- 
ble will any such view appear. Wesley was never a political 
Low Churchman. He had no Dissenting predilections, or Pu- 
ritan punctilios, or latitudinarian laxity. He was a Tory in 
Church and State. But during the last forty or fifty years of 
his fife he altogether abandoned the positive principles of 
High Churchmanship, both in theology and in relation to 
ecclesiastical government. The letter to which I have referred 
was, however, one in which he put prominently forward his 
Toryism, as regarded from a political point of view, in order 
that he might the better commend the argument of his letter 
to the attention of a Tory statesman. He was writing to Lord 
North on behalf of the revolted American colonists, urging 
counsels to which it would have been well if the Government 
had listened. He was writing on a political question to a poli- 
tician. Accordingly he says, "Here all my prejudices are 

Wesley and the Chuech of England. 85 

against the Americans ; for I am a High Churchman, the son 
of a High Churchman, bred up from my childhood in the 
highest notions of passive obedience and non-resistance." 
These words indicate the scope and bearing of the High 
Churchmanship of which he speaks. And yet it is curious 
how he goes on to illustrate, even in the political sphere, the 
independence and liberal tone of his Toryism. He proceeds 
thus : " And yet, in spite of all my long-rooted prejudices, I 
cannot avoid thinking, if I think at all, these, an oppressed 
people, asked for nothing more than their legal rights, and that 
in the most modest and inoffensive manner that the nature of 
the thing would allow." 

His actual position in regard to High Church and Low 
Church — to Anglicanism and Nonconformity — is very clearly 
indicated in the following passages. In his journal, under date 
of Friday, March 13, 1747, he writes : " In some of the follow- 
ing days I snatched a few hours to read ' The History of the 
Puritans.' I stand in amaze ; first, at the execrable spirit of 
persecution which drove those venerable men out of the Church, 
and with which Queen Elizabeth's clergy were as deeply tinct- 
ured as ever Queen Mary's were ; secondly, at the weakness of 
those holy confessors, many of whom spent so much of their 
time and strength in disputing about surplices and hoods, or 
kneeling at the Lord's Supper." In April, 1754, again he 
writes : " I read Dr. Calamy's ' Abridgment of Mr. Baxter's 
Life.' In spite of all the prejudices of education, I could not 
but see that the poor Nonconformists had been used without 
justice or mercy, and that many of the Protestant bishops of 
King Charles (the Second) had neither more religion nor 
humanity than the Popish bishops of Queen Mary." But 
still more decisive, perhaps, as to the limited and modified 
sense in which alone "Wesley could be regarded as a High 
Churchman, even when he described himself as such, is the 
following passage, written two years later than his letter to 
Lord North, namely, in 1777. In it he is, notwithstanding 

86 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

his letter of 1775, appealing to Dissenters to show loyalty to 
the King in the struggle then going on with the revolted col- 
onies ; and he exclaims : " Do you imagine there are no High 
Churchmen left? Did they all die with Dr. Sacheverell? 
Alas ! how little you know of mankind ! "Were the present 
restraint taken off, you would see them swarming on every 
side, and gnashing upon you with their teeth. If other 

Bonners and Gardiners did not arise, other Lauds and Shel- 
dons would, who would either rule over you with a rod of iron, 
or drive you out of the land." 

We have seen how far Wesley had traveled since 1738. The 
investigation which we have thus far conducted is fundamental 
to any correct view of the relations of Methodism to the Church 
of England. There are some who still hope that a violent and 
entire breach between Methodism and the Church of England 
may yet be averted. But of this there can be no hope, if the 
position and the principles of Wesley himself are forever to be 
misunderstood. Those who at the same time summon Meth- 
odists, on the authority of their founder, to return to the fold of 
the Church of England, and deny to their pastors and preachers 
the status of ministers, both mistake the facts of the case, so far 
as Wesley himself was concerned, and do all that lies in their 
power, so far as modern Methodism is concerned, to widen sep- 
aration into alienation, to harden and provoke independence into 
animosity and antagonism. Wesley had plans — dreams, many 
may think them — by which he conceived that the Methodist 
organization, as such, might in great part have been attached to 
the Church of England, might have been the means of largely 
reviving that Church, of absorbing not a little of explicit and 
professed Dissent, of making the Church living and national 
throughout the land. He feared that, if this did not come to pass, 
if nothing were done by the rulers of the Church toward meeting 
his views, his people would, after his death, become a separate 
people. In his independent organization of American Meth- 
odism, he embodied in general his own ideal of an independent 

Wesley and the Church of England. 87 

Methodist Church. He knew full well the mind of many of his 
leading preachers, headed by Dr. Coke, as to the high benefit 
and desirableness, if not the necessity, of Methodism in En- 
gland becoming an independent organization. But he desired 
to postpone such a consummation as long as possible, and to 
prevent it if possible. He was bent upon securing for his own 
Church the utmost space and opportunity for effecting an or- 
ganic union with his Societies, and he endeavored so to use 
his influence to the last as to keep as many of his people at- 
tached to the Church as possible, and at least to preclude a sep- 
aration on dissenting principles. It is wonderful how long and 
how far his influence has extended. Even such a policy as that 
represented in the pastorals of the Bishop of Lincoln, and ex- 
emplified in the outrage recently inflicted by the Yicar of 
Owston Ferry, has not fully availed to drive Methodism to 
make a breach with the Church of England. It may yet be 
possible, by a wise and generous policy, to retain many friends 
in the Methodist Connection who hold that it is well, apart 
from all voluntary communions, to have a liberal Protestant 
Established Church ; or who, at all events, are opposed to a 
disestablishment agitation. But it is no more possible, by 
quoting the authority of Wesley, on the one hand to win back, 
than it is by petty persecutions on the other to drive back, 
any appreciable number of Methodists into the ranks of the 
Church. All that such conduct can do is to irritate and alien- 
ate at large. 

In fact, the principles which "Wesley embraced in 1738 de- 
termined all his future course, and every step he afterward took 
looked toward separation and independence, unless, in good 
time, Methodism could somehow be taken up into organic union 
with the Church of England, and yet left as a system in its 
substantial integrity. It is evident from the terms of the Deed 
Poll, by which, in 1784, he legally constituted the Conference, 
that Wesley contemplated the possibility of the chief ministers 
in some of his circuits being stationary ordained clergymen of 

88 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

the Church of England, with and under whom itinerant Meth- 
odist Evangelists might do the work of the " circuits." The 
limitation of a preacher's labors in connection with the same 
chapel to a period of three years as provided by that Deed 
does not apply, according to the terms of the Deed Pell 
itself, in the case of an ordained clergyman. "Wesley's dream, 
probably, was, that a number — an increasing number as years- 
passed on — of Methodist preachers might be appointed to 
benefices situated respectively at the head place, or in the 
center, of the " circuits " of Methodism, and that, living there, 
they might act as the chief ministers of such circuits, having 
unordained itinerants as their subordinate colleagues and co- 
adjutors. The celebrated Mr. Grimshaw, Yicar of Haworth, 
and the still more celebrated Fletcher, of Madeley, did thus act 
as the chief ministers of Methodist circuits, and had their names 
as such upon the " Minutes of Conference." If this process 
had gone on, these ordained Methodist clergy being members 
of the Conference, there might conceivably have been a Meth- 
odist order and organization within the Church of England, of 
which the members, distinguished by zeal and activity, might 
have been extending their lines and labors in all directions. 
I can see no necessary reason why something like this might 
not have taken place : the orders of the Church of Rome have 
done a work somewhat analogous ; have had their own assem- 
blies, their special organization and discipline and generals. 
"Wesley had early studied closely, and has left on record his 
admiration of, the genius and discipline of Loyola. And it 
was, perhaps, his highest desire to do, in a frank and evangel- 
ical sense and spirit, for the Church of England a work some- 
what resembling what Loyola had organized with such mar- 
velous success for the Church of Rome. Whatever, however, 
might have been his ideas in regard to this matter, they were 
not to be fulfilled ; and, apart from such fulfillment, the steps 
he successively took were directly bent, as I have said, toward 
one goal — the goal of separation, of organized independency. 

Wesley and the Church of England. 89 

When, in 1739, "Wesley organized a system of religious Soci- 
eties, altogether independent of the parochial clergy and of 
Episcopal control, but dependent absolutely on himself, he took 
a step toward raising up a separate communion, especially as 
the " rules " of his Societies contained no requirement of alle- 
giance to the Established Church. When, in 1740, he built 
meeting-houses, which were settled on trustees for his own use, 
and began, with his brother, to administer the sacraments in 
these houses, a further step was taken in the same direction. 
Calling out, in 1741, lay preachers wholly devoted to the work 
of preaching and visitation, was still a step in advance toward 
the same issue. The yearly Conferences, begun in 1744, tended 
obviously in the same direction. The legal constitution of the 
Conference in 1784, and the provision for vesting in it, for 
the use of the " People called Methodists," all the preaching- 
places and trust property of the Connection, was a most impor- 
tant measure, giving to the Union of the Societies a legally 
corporate character and large property-rights. The ordination 
of ministers, even for America, as Charles Wesley forcibly 
pointed out at the time, could hardly fail to conduct toward 
the result which Wesley had so long striven to avert, namely, 
the general ordination of his preachers in Great Britain. If it 
was necessary to ordain for America, they would plead that it 
was highly expedient to ordain for England. The principle 
was conceded that the only question was one of time and fit- 
ness as to its more extended application. The ordinations 
for Scotland were refused by Wesley so long as he could refuse 
them with either safety or consistency. Without them, his 
people would, in very many cases, have been left quite with- 
out the sacraments, as the Calvinistic controversy had become 
imbittered, and Wesley and his followers were accounted here- 
tics by the Orthodox in Scotland. Nevertheless, ordaining for 
Scotland could not but hasten the day when preachers must 
be ordained for England. It was hard to require that Mr. 
Taylor should administer in Scotland, and should hold himself 

90 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

forbidden and unable to administer in England. And when, 
at length, Wesley was compelled to ordain a few ministers for 
England, it could not but be seen that wbat had been done in 
the case of the few could not always be refused as respected 
their brethren at large. As little could it be expected that 
while, for various reasons, in addition to London and Bristol, 
which had enjoyed this " privilege " from the beginning, more 
and more places were allowed to enjoy the privilege of preach- 
ing in church hours, the concession of the same privilege to 
other places which might desire it could be permanently denied. 

In weighing this summary of facts, Churchmen are also 
bound in justice to remember that it was the continued refusal 
of the clergy in Bristol to administer the Lord's Supper to the 
Methodists, and even to the Wesleys themselves, which drove 
them to administer it to their Societies in their own meeting- 
house. Similar conduct constrained Wesley to allow separate 
services in more and more places, and, in the end, to ordain 
some of his own preachers to assist him in administering the 
sacraments to his Societies even in England. 

Much is made by many of the clergy of the injunctions 
which Wesley so often gave to his people down to his last days, 
not to separate from the Church of England. There can be 
no doubt that he had a passionate desire to keep them as long 
as possible, and as many of them as possible, within that fold ; 
but no injunctions or entreaties on his part could change the 
logic of facts, or alter the necessary consequences of the course 
he himself pursued so steadily for fifty years. Besides, his say- 
ings on the other side were sharp and strong, and cannot but have 
the more weight as having been wrung from him in spite of him- 
self — in spite of the strongest bias in the other direction. 
Writing to his brother Charles, Wesley says, in 1755 : "Joseph 
Cownley says, ' For such and such reasons I dare not hear a 
drunkard preach or read prayers.' I answer, I dare, but I can- 
not answer his reasons." And again, writing still to his brother 
thirty years later, in 1786, he says : " The last time I was at 

"Wesley and the Church of England. 91 

Scarborough I earnestly exhorted our people to go to Church, 
and I went myself. But the wretched minister preached such 
a sermon that I could not in conscience advise them to hear 
him any more." 

It is truly said, and much stress is laid upon it, that "Wesley 
urged his preachers and people not to hold their services in 
church hours. This was his rule ; but it is equally true that in 
London and Bristol, his chief centers, the services had almost 
from the beginning been held in church hours ; that he sanc- 
tioned many other exceptions to the rule ; and that the number 
of exceptions increased as the years went on, until at length, in 
1788, general liberty was given to hold such services wherever 
the people did not object, except only on sacrament Sunday. 
This exception was absolutely necessary, because, as a rule, 
Methodists could only obtain the sacrament at church. As yet 
but few of the preachers were ordained. Wesley and Coke, 
Wesley's lieutenant after his brother Charles ceased to itinerate, 
could rarely visit any given place, and they never visited some 
places. Local preachers supplied the pulpit, leaders met the 
classes ; but neither could administer the sacraments. 

Wesley's views as to the Established Church were very lax. 
Regarded as a national Church we have seen that he defined 
it to be merely a political institution. He seems to have con- 
sidered that every one who believed the main doctrines of the 
Church of England, and lived a Christian life, according to his 
best lights and opportunities, so long as he did not consciously 
or deliberately dissent from that Church, was to be regarded as 
a member of it; We must bear this in mind if we would un- 
derstand how it was that Wesley, at the same time, earnestly 
desired and entreated his people generally to remain as closely as 
possible attached to the Church of England, and yet, whenever 
any usage, or customary right, or even law of that Church, 
seemed to come into conflict with what he regarded as the 
spread of evangelical truth and life, he was prepared to make 
an entire and unhesitating sacrifice of it. He regarded the 

92 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

Church of England, indeed, and all belonging to it, as only a 
means to an end. Hence, in 1755, when his brother Charles was 
trembling and indignant in the prospect, as he foreboded, of a 
speedy and organic separation of many of the preachers and of 
the Societies from the Church, "Wesley wrote to him thus : — 

"Wherever I have been in England the Societies are far 
more firmly and rationally attached to the Church than ever 
they were before. I have no fear about this matter. I only 
fear the preachers' or the peoples' leaving, not the Church, but 
the love of God, and inward or outward holiness. To this I 
press them forward continually. I dare not, in conscience, 
spend my time and strength on externals. If, as my Lady 
Huntingdon says, all outward Establishments are Babel, so is 
this Establishment. Let it stand for me. I neither set it up 
nor pull it down. But let you and I build up the city of 

Again, still more notable are his words which follow : — 

" My conclusion, which I cannot yet give up — that it is lawful 
to continue in the Church — stands, I know not how, without 
any premises to bear its weight. I know the original doctrines 
of the Church are sound : I know her worship is, in the main, 
pure and Scriptural. But if the ' essence of the Church of 
England, considered as such, consists in her orders and laws 
(many of which I can myself say nothing for) and not in her 
worship and doctrines,' those who separate from her have a far 
stronger plea than I was ever sensible of." 

Again, in 1786, writing to his brother, Wesley said : " As you 
observe, one may leave a Church (which I would advise in some 
cases) without leaving the Church. Here we may remain in 
spite of all wicked or Calvinistic preachers." In the same year, 
a month earlier, he had written, also to his brother, " Indeed, I 
love the Church as sincerely as ever I did ; and I tell our Socie- 
ties every-where, ' The Methodists will not leave the Church, 
at least while I live.' " 

The limitation intimated in the last clause quoted is not 

Wesley and the Church of England. 93 

without significance. But there were occasions on which Wes- 
ley contemplated the possibility of actual Dissent, even on his 
own part, although assuredly no alternative, no extremity, could 
well have been more repugnant to all his tastes and feelings. 
The Bishop of London having excommunicated a clergyman 
for preaching without a license, Wesley wrote respecting this, 
" It is probable the point will be now determined concerning 
the Church, for if we must either dissent or be silent, actum 
est." " Church or no Church," again he wrote, " we must at- 
tend to the work of saving souls." 

It was at last brought to the sharp issue which Wesley dreaded, 
so far as many, and in the end all, of his congregations were 
concerned. They were obliged either to dissent or be silent. 
One of Wesley's latest letters, addressed to a bishop, relates to 
this subject. The Methodists found themselves forced either 
to register their meeting-houses as "Protestant Dissenting" 
places of worship, or else forego all the protection and benefits 
of the Toleration Act. I give the Methodist patriarch's letter 
entire. He was eighty-six years old when he wrote it : 

My Lord : It may seem strange that one who is not acquainted with 
your lordship should trouble you with a letter. But I am constrained 
to do it ; I believe it is my duty both to God and your lordship. And I 
must speak plain, having nothing to hope or fear in this world, which I 
am on the point of leaving. 

The Methodists, in general, my lord, are members of the Church 
of England. They hold all her doctrines, attend her service, and par- 
take of her sacraments. They do not willingly do harm to any one, but 
do what good they can to all. To encourage each other herein, they fre- 
quently spend an hour together in prayer and exhortation. Permit me, 
then, to ask, Gui bono ? For what reasonable end would your lordship 
drive these people out of the Church ? Are they not as quiet, as inoffen- 
sive, nay, as pious as any of their neighbors, except perhaps here and 
there a hare-brained man who knows not what he is about ? 

Do you ask, Who drives them out of the Church ? Your lordship 
does, and that in the most cruel manner, yea, and the most disingenuous 
manner. They desire a license to worship God after their own con- 
science. Your lordship refuses it, and then punishes them for not hav- 

94 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

ing a license! So your lordship leaves them only this alternative, 
" Leave the Church or starve." And it is a Christian, yea, a Protestant 
bishop that so persecutes his own flock. I say persecutes, for it is a 
persecution to all intents and purposes. You do not burn them, in- 
deed, but you starve them, and how small is the difference! And your 
lordship does this under color of a vile, execrable law, not a whit better 
than that Be Emretico Comburendo. So persecution, which is banished 
out of France, is again countenanced in England. 

O my lord, for God's sake, for Christ's sake, for pity's sake, suffer 
the poor people to enjoy their religious as well as civil liberty. I 
am on the brink of eternity. Perhaps so is your lordship, too. How 
soon may you also be called to give an account of your stewardship to 
the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls 1 May he enable both you and 
me to do it with joy! So prays, my lord, 

Your lordship's dutiful son and servant, 

John Wesley. 

Thus were the Methodists compelled, against their own will, 
as well as sorely against the will of their founder, to become 
in legal construction Protestant Dissenters. ' 

Nevertheless, it is remarkable how slowly the process of act- 
xial separation proceeded. The date of the letter just quoted 
was June 26, 1790, a few weeks before the last Conference at 
which Wesley presided. What effect the new condition of 
things might have produced on his views or conduct if he had 
been a younger man, and had lived a few years longer, it is im- 
possible to conjecture. He was still hoping for relief from 
this stringent and impolitic application of the Conventicle Act 
up to the date of his death. But it is certain that the dissent- 
ing party within the Conference and among the Societies (by 
no means a small or feeble party) must have been stimulated 
and strengthened by finding themselves forced into the legal 
position of Dissenters. Nevertheless, the spirit of Wesley 
prevailed in the councils of his followers after his death to a 
degree which, all things considered, is really surprising. 

In 1787 Wesley had said, "When the Methodists leave the 
Church of England, Cod will leave them ; " in 1788, that the 
" glory " of the Methodists had been " not to be a separate body," 

Wesley and the Church of England. 95 

and that "the more he reflected the more he was convinced 
that the Methodists ought not to leave the Church ; " in 1789, 
that they would " not be a distinct body ; " in 1790, that " none 
who regarded his judgment or advice would separate from the 
Church of England." And as a matter of fact, notwithstand- 
ing the enforcement of the Conventicle Act, the Conference 
after Mr. Wesley's death did not " separate from the Church of 

"What Wesley dreaded first and most in separation was its 
want of charity, its schismatic temper and tendency. Many 
passages might be quoted to prove this. His whole soul re- 
volted from the thought of his people deliberately, for reasons 
assigned and upon a manifesto of dissent and separation, sever- 
ing themselves from the Church. If there were to be a sepa- 
ration, his determination through life was, that the separation 
should be imposed and forced upon, not sought or determined 
by, the Methodists. He could not but be aware, moreover, that 
the conscious and deliberate organization of his people into a 
separate Church would be in many ways a hazardous and pre- 
carious experiment. He was persuaded that the express adop- 
tion of the status and principles of a Dissenting sect would 
bring disorganization and ruin to Methodism. 

The Conference, as I have said, after Wesley's death, acted 
in harmony with the spirit of their founder. Even the enforce- 
ment of the Conventicle Act, the hardships of which were not 
removed till 1812, when Parliament, under the ministry of 
Lord Liverpool, passed an act repealing the obnoxious and 
oppressive restrictions on the liberty of preaching, did not 
drive them into any extreme course. They suffered, indeed, 
between 1791 and 1795, the peace of the Connection to be 
most seriously embroiled, and allowed many of their churches 
to be brought to the verge of dissolution, before they consented 
to permit even the gradual extension of separate services in 
church hours, and of sacramental administration by their 
own preachers for the members of their Societies. In giving 

96 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

this guarded permission they still did but follow the prece- 
dent of "Wesley, and act in conformity with his spirit and 
principles. They never, at any time, decreed a separation of 
Methodism from the Church of England ; that separation was 
effected by the particular Societies distributively and the indi- 
vidual members personally, not at all by the action, or on the 
suggestion, but only by the permission, of the Conference. 
The "Wesleyan Conference did not, in fact, recognize and 
provide for the actual condition of ecclesiastical independency 
into which the Connection had been brought, until that condi- 
tion had long existed ; and Methodist preachers abstained from 
using the style and title appropriate to ordained ministers, 
and from assuming in any way collectively, the language of 
complete pastoral responsibility, until by the universal action 
of the Connection their people had, of their own will, practi- 
cally separated themselves from the Church of England, and 
forced their preachers into the full position and relations of 
pastors — pastors in common of a common flock, who recognized 
them alone as their ministers, and among whom they itinerated 
by mutual arrangement. 

Looking at the whole evidence, it appears to be undeniable 
that, as it has been said, so far as respects the separate develop- 
ment of Methodism, " Wesley not only pointed but paved the 
way to all that has since been done, and that the utmost diver- 
gence of Methodism from the Church of England at this day 
is but the prolongation of a line the beginning of which was 
traced by Wesley's own hand." It is idle to attempt to purge 
Wesley of the sin of schism in order to cast the guilt upon his 

It is manifestly now too late to think of the re-absorption of 
Methodism into the Church of England, for English Method- 
ism is not only itself a large and consolidated communion, but 
it has been the fruitful mother of many other communions ; of 
the Methodist Episcopal Church of the United States, by far 
the largest Protestant Church in America, perhaps in the 

"Wesley and the Chuech of England. 97 

world; of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South; of the 
Colonial Methodist Churches ; and of Mission Churches almost 
without end — not to mention other Methodist Churches in both 
hemispheres. "With such a family of Churches derived from 
itself, that parent stock of Methodism which claims direct de- 
scent from John Wesley, is never likely to consent to merge its 
own identity or annul its historical position. 





IN dealing with the character and career of John Wesley, 
as our allotted space forbids all introductory, rhetorical, 
or eloquent vaporing, we shall only premise by saying that 
Wesley differed essentially from all previous religious reform- 
ers, including Wiclif, Luther, Calvin, Zwinglius, Cranmer, 
Knox, and all the great and good men of the Puritan age. 
When Wesley looked upon the ruins of an old abbey in Scot- 
land, he said, " God deliver us from reforming mobs. He does 
not, cannot need the work of the devil to forward reform." 
Wesley's reforms were quite of another stamp. He saw that 
people's hearts and lives needed reforming, and he had the 
sagacity to go back to the ages of the apostles and those imme- 
diately succeeding, for his examples of Christian life and work. 
!No one knew better than he that the Reformers of the six- 
teenth century merely struck at the outworks of a gigantic 
system of corruption and fraud, while they left the heart of 
the great evil still living and beating. They lit a great fire 
which consumed huge masses of refuse, but it sometimes 
burned too fast and even too much, and, in most instances, 
soon burned itself out. Wesley aimed to light a fire in men's 
hearts rather than in their passions, and hence we now see the 

* In this paper every fact or incident may be verified by reference to the follow, 
ing works: Watson's "Life of Wesley;" Everett's "Life of Adam Clarke;" 
Southey's " Life of Wesley ; " Tyerman's " Life and Times of Reverend S. Wes- 
ley ; " " The Oxford Methodists ; " " John Wesley and the Evangelical Reaction of 
the Eighteenth Century," by Julia Wedgwood ; " John Wesley's Place in Church 
History," by R. Denny Urlin ; and above all, Tyerman's " Life and Times of John 

Wesley's Influence. 99 

results in the religious decadence of the work of the old 
Reformers, and in the permanence and ever-increasing growth 
of the spiritual light and heat which he kindled. The old 
Reformers set the mind of Europe free from a religious and 
political bondage unequaled in the history of mankind, and so 
far laid the world under undying obligations; but "Wesley 
came to do another and still higher work : to awaken the inner 
and spiritual life, and call men's attention to the great fact, 
every-where lost or overlooked, that there is something worth 
the attention of rational beings beyond the physical and ma- 
terial, or even the intellectual ; that in fact there are spiritual 
laws which govern the universe, and which take cognizance of 
men and human affairs. "Wesley started with a fixed and im- 
movable resolve to reawaken mankind to the dread reality and 
pressing importance of these great truths, and to inspire in 
them a higher spiritual life. 

John "Wesley was an eminent example of English manliness 
and disinterested love of truth. "When he set out on his un- 
promising mission there was no place in the Church not fairly 
open to him, and, with his fine natural abilities and attainments 
as a scholar, there would have been no undue ambition had he 
aimed at its highest dignities. The Epworth parsonage for 
him had no charms, nor was the possible gain of the primacy 
to be put in competition with the glory of awakening his 
fellow-countrymen to a sense of the importance and value of a 
new spiritual life. Ambitious prospects of promotion, Church 
friends and associations, emoluments and allurements promised 
by a life of comparatively quiet repose, were freely sacrificed 
to this one great purpose. No man more sincerely and de- 
voutly loved the Church of England than John "Wesley, but 
when it stood in the way of saving men's souls he could not 
long hesitate as to his duty. Field-preaching seemed " disor- 
derly," and excited the Church prejudices of himself and 
others, but when the church doors were closed against him he 
took to the fields ; when the work required "helpers," and 

100 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

the clergy gave none, he called men from their trades ; when 
the sacrament was denied his followers, he provided for its 
administration in his " preaching-houses ; " when " ordination " 
was denied by the English bishops and became a necessity, 
he ordained for himself; and when his brothers and friends 
frowned upon him for his "irregularities" and "innovations " 
he perseveringly and manfully kept to his work. 

Once the time came to act for himself — for he was slow in 
assuming a spirit of self-dependence — he went on with giant 
strides. His mother, a woman of unusually strong common 
sense, was then the only person who could exercise authority 
over him ; but she did little to restrain him, and the organiza- 
tion and consolidation of his Societies went on rapidly, aided 
by a host of men striving, with all their powers, for the same 
ends. His discipline was severe and decisive, but he had the 
eyes to see that it was necessary, ihe sagacity to understand the 
times in which he lived, and the fortitude to meet with justice 
and promptitude all the needs which sprang up around him. 
Besides, if his rule was necessarily severe, it was not oppressive, 
and bred up no craven or cringing spirits. The Methodists 
cheerfully submitted to his rule ; but where are the traces of 
slavishness? The very carriage of their leader could hardly 
fail to teach them a genuine English manliness. At the battles 
of Dettingen and Fontenoy there was evidence enough that 
John Wesley trained up no men of cowardly or mean spirit. 
There, on those bloody fields, a small band of Methodists were 
the pride and flower of the English forces. Every rogue and 
reprobate who joined that little knot of John "Wesley's follow- 
ers was quickly made into a new man. The thief, who had 
often risked his neck — the drunkard, who had besotted himself 
— the swearer, who only knew oaths — the Sabbath-breaker and 
the unclean — were transformed into honest, orderly soldiers, 
many of them praying privates, who, on the battle-day, know- 
ing no fear, were the true Methodist Ironsides of King 
George, and before whose onset the enemy quailed. On those 

Wesley's Influence. 101 

memorable fields the model men for manliness and fortitude 
were those whose courage and spirit John Wesley had in- 

John "Wesley fearlessly faced a fierce turbulence, brutal as 
was ever let loose amid the confusion of mob lawlessness and 
riot. When he aimed his blows at the prejudices, diversions, 
and vices of society, society rose in passionate resentment that 
threatened his life. The very social and national instincts of 
the time naturally poured out the vials of their wrath on any 
object they could find, as a mere diversion to gratify their love 
of riot and cruelty ; mere brutality was a popular pastime, a 
social sensational sport which delighted in nothing so much as 
daily disquiet and uproar. Public morals were so bad as 
hardly to admit of description, and the man who daily hurled 
thunderbolts at them in the form of religious truths was sure 
to come in "for abuse. The clergy, too, in the background, 
annoyed at the success and angered at the rivalry of Wesley, 
at first encouraged the national instincts, and animated into 
outbreaks the wild and lawless mobs of the streets. But who 
ever heard of Wesley being cowed by threatened popular out- 
breaks, or turning his back, or slinking away in fear of a 
tumultuous rabble ? 

Wesley was a plain, honest, unartificial Englishman, who de- 
tested all flash and sham, and had the courage to say so. His 
love of the natural and simple had made him almost despise 
that which was chiefly embellishment. He was a man who 
hated all pretense and tinsel ; plain in his dress, his habits, his 
style, his speech, his food, his furniture, his tastes ; and he loved 
plain truth and plain people. In Lady Huntingdon's mansion 
he never felt much at home, nor did he relish Charles Wes- 
ley's frequent visits there. Yet he was no democrat in the En- 
glish sense ; no bigot, no leveler ; but a lover of order, and loyal 
to the core. Had the king been a tyrant or an incorrigible des- 
pot, with all his deference to " the powers that be," he would 
easily have found his way to the conclusion — as did his ances- 

102 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

tor under James II. — that he was in his wrong place on the 
throne of England. The two brothers generally acted in con- 
cert, though John was the controlling and directing spirit in all 
enterprises. Sometimes Charles forgot this. Not only was 
John the elder, but he had always been the originator, the 
mover, and the ruler ; and he fairly claimed the right of keep- 
ing the reins in his own hands. Had he not done so, Charles, 
with his unyielding " High "-Churchmanship, would have 
wrecked Methodism fifty times over during his life. Like all 
wise governors, John knew when to keep the bridle tight, and 
when to slacken it ; but Charles did not. John reined Charles 
in when he got restive. " As to advice," he wrote to Charles, 
" you are far from asking it ; and yet I may say without van- 
ity, I am a better judge of this matter than either Lady Hunt- 
ingdon, Sally, [his brother's wife,] Jones, or any other. 
In making the alteration (as to the sacrament) you never 
consulted me? And then to Lord Dartmouth, with whom he 
was on the best terms, he wrote, " I can truly say that I neither 
fear nor desire any thing from your lordship ; to speak a rough 
truth, I do not desire any intercourse with any person of qual- 
ity in England. I mean for my own sake. They do me no 
good, and I fear I can do them none." ..." Have you a per- 
son in all England who speaks to your lordship so plain and 
downright as I do ? who considers not the peer, but the man ? 
who is jealous over you with a godly jealousy, lest you should 
be less a Christian by being a nobleman ? " Yet Wesley was 
tractable and teachable beyond most men. ]STo man would take 
reproof more meekly, nor acknowledge faults more manfully. 
He pleaded guilty to a charge of over-strong language used to 
a controversial opponent, and wept while he said, " The words 
you mention were too strong ; they will no more drop from my 
mouth." He had not only the wisdom of a leader, but the soul 
of an Englishman. Before the magnates of Oxford he said, in 
his sermon before the University, " In the presence of the great 
God, you that are in authority over us, and whom I reverence 

Wesley's Influence. 103 

for your office' sake. in the name of the Lord God Al- 

mighty, I ask, what religion you are of ! " 

But, with matchless manliness, Wesley was neither proud 
nor self-sufficient. "Whoever wants a pattern of docility and 
willingness to learn, may go to the early history of the Oxford 
leader of the "Holy Club." A vulgar error prevails, even 
among Dissenters, that he was merely a controversial revivalist. 
All that is true of this is, that he was always being pestered by 
petty cavilers. As to controversy, he detested it, and when- 
ever he could he shunned it, and often forbade his " preachers " 
the practice. Though he disputed with a master mind, and 
made all opponents quail before his sterling common sense and 
irresistible logic, he never sought nor encouraged disputation, 
except with the vice and depravity with which he was sur- 
rounded. In the Calvinian controversy he was not the aggress- 
or, but was dragged and driven into it. All his followers were 
again and again warned not to touch it ; and but that he was 
abused and badgered into conflict by a set of fierce fanatics, 
John Wesley would never have appeared in the history of the 
Church of his country as the chief of those who drove Cal- 
vinism from British pulpits. As a revivalist, for over half 
a century he traversed the country without fee or pay, and 
sought to revive primitive Christianity in the hearts and lives 
of the people. His preaching usually was quiet as a Quaker's, 
and stately as the lectures of a professor. For years his inquir- 
ing and teachable spirit was the most striking and distinguish- 
ing feature of his character. Long and long, while he was 
yearning to understand " the truth as it is in Jesus," he sought 
light and' guidance from his strong-minded and well-informed 
mother, a woman quite competent to discuss religious questions 
with any bishop then on the bench. A man himself of un- 
common parts, and, in those days, of uncommon culture, he did 
not seek after the truth by seeking, like many sharp-witted 
men, to pick it up incidentally as it might drop from others ; 
but he went like a learner, with all the simplicity of a child, to 

104 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

be taught. Among the Moravians he thought he saw the 
pure Gospel, and seemed never at rest but when in their 
company. He joined their Society at " Fetter Lane " simply 
because he thought he had found the true " followers of the 
Lamb." To the Continent he went, and spent weeks with 
these people at their head-quarters, listening to the teaching of 
men whose chief characteristic appears to have been a large 
amount of general ignorance, simply because he thought 
they understood better than others the " plan of salvation ; " 
and he submitted in England to an amount of personal 
catechising and impertinent dogmatism that can only be ac- 
counted for by the fact that he had resolved nothing should 
stand in the way of his finding the truth. He soon found, 
however, that, with a little truth, there was among the " United 
Brethren " of that day (we do not think it applies to the pres- 
ent) a great deal of fanatical fooling, which did not do for the 
man who had about the clearest head and the most practical 
and logical mind in the country. In the same anxious and 
teachable spirit he went to the celebrated "William Law, than 
whom no man was better qualified to direct and instruct in 
questions of practical religion. Law's teaching had much 
weight with Wesley. But when he subsequently found that 
Law had led him wrong on a vital point, the shock and revul- 
sion were so violent that he wrote an angry and pettish letter 
to Law, making strong and unwarrantable charges against him 
for having misled him so seriously in his search for truth. 
This was a grave mistake, one of the two mistakes of a busy 
life of nearly ninety years, and for which "Wesley suffered the 
penalty by a well-merited rebuke administered by. Law for 
what he rightly considered an unjustifiable impertinence. Still 
"Wesley was young and inexperienced ; but his earnestness, sin- 
cerity, and manliness are transparent through the whole of this 
unfortunate indiscretion. He was so intent on his work thus 
early that any sensible person might have taught Wesley, pro- 
vided the teaching had any thing in it worth learning. Amid 

Wesley's Influence. 105 

a rude, vicious, and materialized age, he was in a sacred hurry 
to get a vivid sense of all that related to the unseen and spirit- 
ual ; and it was too much for his anxious spirit to bear, when 
he found he had been led into darkness by one he thought 
pre-eminently qualified to lead him into light. An error it 
doubtless was, but it was born of the same spirit and temper 
which led "Wesley, above all other men, into a yearning desire 
to awaken a depraved nation to a new life — a life founded on 
the ideas of an ever-present God, and of an all-sufficient Sav- 
iour ever nigh at hand. 

"Wesley was a man who cared much for his friends, but he 
ever loved truth more than persons. Where was love ever 
seen more deep and fervent than that between "Wesley and his 
great and large-hearted fellow- worker, George Whitefield? 
But, though "Wesley avoided all cause of offense, and resolved 
never to come in collision with him, and though they mutually 
agreed not to dispute with each other on the Calvinian ques- 
tion, and though "Whitefield, in his zeal and natural impetuos- 
ity of temper, violated his pledge by a violent attack on 
"Wesley, the latter never retaliated, and declared he never 
would, however much he might be provoked. Indeed, when 
Whitefield decided to violate this mutual covenant, and showed 
Wesley his manuscript prior to printing, to save him from 
gross mistakes in matters of fact and to protect him from rid- 
icule on account of his ignorance, Wesley suggested certain 
omissions. Whitefield, urged on by his Calvinistic friends, 
published, and preached, too, against Wesley in no measured 
terms ; but Wesley kept his word not to avenge himself, and 
left open the way to a reconciliation, which, later on, led to 
a renewal of the friendship, which was never again disturbed. 
This we call manliness, scarcely to be paralleled in the history 
of English literature, especially when we remember Wesley's 
advantage over his antagonist in culture, logical acumen, and 
intellectual force. 

But during the Calvinian controversy, in which both sides were 

106 The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 

hotly engaged for many years, their usual friendly intercourse 
for some time was interrupted. "Wesley, however, engaged 
his opponents elsewhere. He would not dispute with his 
friend, but no friendship, however sacred, could close his mouth 
or restrain his pen against what he regarded deadly error. 
His vigorous and logical mind could see nothing but a horrible 
cruelty in "Whitefield's notion that a large portion of his fellow- 
Christians were condemned to a fate the mere thought of 
which should make every serious man shudder ; nor could he 
see any thing much better in "Whitefield's views of slavery. 
About vital truths like these "Wesley could make no compro- 
mise. "Whitefield, it is true, pleaded with the planters of 
Georgia for kindness toward the negroes, but at the same time 
he helped on the institution of slavery by his evidence before 
the House of Commons. Thus this apostolic man, whose 
glowing eloquence brought from the eyes of the rough Kings- 
wood colliers "tears which made gutters down their black 
cheeks," by showing sympathy on the one hand and a willing- 
ness to enslave on the other, well vindicated the spirit and tem- 
per of Calvinism, and ran counter to the deep feelings and 
equally deep convictions of "Wesley. It is well, perhaps, that 
"Wesley and "Whitefield parted company for a season, because 
he who at the same time could extol the loving-kindness of the 
Creator and make him chargeable with " reprobation "—who 
could seek with one hand to lessen the evils, and with the 
other to enlarge the area, of slavery — was hardly the man to 
work harmoniously with John "Wesley, who could only see in- 
finite love in the great Father, and whose whole life was an 
incessant yearning for the salvation of the whole race. 

John Wesley showed his countrymen the true methods 
of rousing into intellectual activity an uneducated and igno- 
rant populace. There were, indeed, no lack of men of talent 
and genius ; of men, too, who saw and regretted the gross igno- 
rance of the times ; but no one seemed to know how to reach 
the evil ; how to teach, and what to teach. There were men 

Wesley's Influence. 107 

who made efforts to mend matters by parliamentary inquiries 
and resolutions, but their best efforts were fitful, feeble, and 
futile. The better disposed and most capable aimed badly, 
for they shot right over the heads of the people, with the 
effect of blank cartridge fired over the heads of a mob, to 
be ridiculed and mocked. Pope wrote inimitable poetry; 
Grarrick on the stage did his brilliant mimicry ; Boling- 
broke flourished proudly his false and fatal philosophy ; John- 
son, with unrivaled diction, discussed etymologies, politics, 
poetry, and public morals ; Doddridge wrote seriously and well 
on the " Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul," but died 
early; Warburton descanted learnedly on the "Divine Lega- 
tion of Moses," and found that the Jewish system knew noth- 
ing of a future or an immortal life ; David Hume, with sullen 
sarcasm and a stoic's indifference, canted about the "Natural 
History of Religion," which made Warburton call him " that 
low fellow, Hume ; " Swift devoted himself to what he thought 
good joking, and was an expert in ridicule and raillery ; 
Priestley, enamored of Socinianism and philosophical necessity, 
discovered that there was no such entity as an immaterial 
spirit ; Berkeley, that in the whole universe there was no such 
thing as matter ; Tindal proclaimed " Christianity as Old as the 
Creation ; " Chatham electrified the " Upper House," and made 
its name the symbol of finished oratory ; Chesterfield, if not a 
dancing-master, made excellent dandies ; North laid foolish taxes 
on the colonies ; Wilkes, spite of his hideous squint the most 
popular man of his day, was professor of lewdness, and expos- 
itor-general of unbridled license and vulgar clap-trap; Defoe 
taught boys not to run away from home, lest they should get 
separated with some good man Friday from civilization ; Burke, 
in rounded periods and rolling eloquence never since equaled, 
taught the science of politics and statesmanship with a wisdom 
not excelled by ancient tribunal or modern senator; and the 
clergy, Episcopal and Dissenting, see-sawed in the pulpits on 
the " sovereign decrees " and the obligations of morality, till 

108 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

the people laughed at their theology, and left them to preach 
it to the pews. How was all this to raise an ignorant and be- 
sotted populace to intellectual and spiritual lif e and activity ? 
A man was required to take a sensible and practical view of 
the real condition and urgent wants of the country, and that 
man was John Wesley. 

To his powerful and rousing preaching Wesley superadded 
attention to the education of the young. From the first he 
saw that where he could he must begin with the children ; so 
that, the pulpit working from above and the schools from below, 
he might permeate the social mass, quicken into life and activ- 
ity the national mental torpor, and infuse spiritual vitality into 
that which had been little less than a body of mental and moral 
death. In his " early Oxford days " he was soon with the chil- 
dren ; such members of the " Holy Club " as he saw fit being 
appointed to do the work at the little school of ragged urchins. 
At the work-house and prisons they attended on the same er- 
rand, and many a poor child and many a gray-headed thief and 
vagabond, who entered these places blind as moles, came out 
able to read the Bible, write a letter, and " cast simple accounts." 
None in those days saw so clearly as Wesley that to teach the 
heart you must go through the understanding. At Bristol, at 
Kingswood among the colliers, and at the " Foundery," Wesley 
early established schools. Wherever in his earlier and later 
travels an opportunity offered, he provided the means of initia- 
tion into intellectual lif e. Easy and natural as this may appear 
in our day, it was the reverse in Wesley's days. In this respect 
modern thought and sentiment are a complete inversion of the 
thought and sentiment of the early Hanoverian period, and no 
man did so much in the start of this " turning up side down " as 
John Wesley. It was not popular then to have ragged-schools ; 
it would have been deemed mistaken meddling, or a modified 
madness. It was then deemed an unmitigated folly to educate 
the vulgar poor, and Wesley was among the very first public 
men of that age to teach, by precept and practice, that it was 

Wesley's Influence. 109 

consummate wisdom. True, there was in Germany some recog- 
nition of the principle during Luther's struggle, and in England 
during that of Cranmer and Cromwell, but the question was 
"buried in a Romish rubbish-heap, pertaining not to a " new birth," 
" a clean heart," and a Christian deportment, but to images and 
relics, doctrines and discipline, fast days and saint days, monk- 
ery, moonshine, and silly asceticism. In England, Henry, in 
his zeal for Protestantism and haste to get rid of his wives and 
the Pope, declared every man should be able "to read the 
Bible," and actually chained one to the pulpit in most parish 
churches, that any body might go and practice. But he was 
ambitious to be pope himself in England, and there is very lit- 
tle doubt that Henry's motives were pure hatred to Rome— 
which he rightly thought the Bible would foster — rather than 
any love of popular education. When Wesley appeared on the 
stage the general opinion was, that educating the common peo- 
ple was the readiest road to revolution and ruin. The seats of 
learning, even, were centers of frivolity, idleness, and luxury. 
The " Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge " had, 
indeed, come into being, and in the face of popular opinion had 
set lip a " charity-school ; " but the most formidable obstacle 
it met with was the general objection that " charity-schools 
bred up children in ignorance and pride" which it tried, in 
very delicate terms, to coax rather than reason the public into 
believing was, perhaps, not quite.and wholly true. 

Wesley's school at Kingswood has a noble history. The 
higher-class school for preachers' sons, and for the children of 
such parents as could afford to pay, still exists, but on a differ- 
ent site ; and there are now hundreds who venerate the memory 
of the old institution, grateful for the influence it has exerted 
on their characters and lives. Since the days of Wesley the 
eyes of Englishmen have gradually opened to the importance 
of popular education ; till now we find those who would force 
it gratis down the throats of both ill and well-to-do people, at 
the expense of others whose means are barely sufficient to meet 

110 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

their own educational requirements. Zealots are they, who, to 
gain the suffrages of the ignorant, improvident, and lazy, have 
run into the extremes of the educational mania, and attempted 
to bring odium on that which in itself is priceless ! If it is 
wrong to force the ignorant, extravagant, and thriftless to pay 
for their own children, it can hardly be right to force the sober, 
industrious, and thrifty poor — who are unable to educate their 
own — to pay for the education of the children of others. 

The clergy of the day were quite incapable of coping with 
the low mental condition of the country. If they tried they 
signally failed; and incompetency was intensified by misfor- 
tune. Since the Restoration a deplorable reaction had set in 
against Puritanism, and it reached its climax about the time of 
Wesley, the major part of the clergy imbibing and encouraging 
the general feeling. Every thing was done to cover the men 
and movement of that age with contempt and scorn. It was 
systematically attempted to invert all that was peculiar to the 
time of the Puritans. Even Puritanical extremes were an- 
swered, paid back, with their opposites ; hence ignorance and its 
consequents, crime and its social impurity, floated like a thick 
fetid scum on the surface of society. With this, too, the clergy 
had lost their social standing ; and with this, again, their intel- 
lectual hold of the people— only the natural and inevitable re- 
sult of their own folly. Every-where they were objects of 
dislike ; and many were drunken, lazy, ignorant, and worse. 
The lower clergy in good society were treated as menials, and 
the poor and uneducated were not likely to respect them. Be- 
sides, though there were many good and clever men among 
them, yet commonly their education was scanty, and their 
ignorance so gross that they were not the people to set up as 
intellectual leaders. In their churches they failed to preserve 
decent order and decorum. As a rule, fashionable people went 
to a fashionable church ; but they went, not to be instructed, 
but to whisper scandal, to use a fan handsomely, appear flashily 
arrayed in satins and bedecked with diamonds, and to peep at 

Wesley's Influence: 111 

each other through an opera-glass. A ministry that could not 
mend this was not likely to mend the midnight darkness out 
of doors. Besides, when the flock loses its respect for the 
shepherd the shepherd cannot control the flock. 

But Wesley's chief means of awakening the intellectual life 
of the nation was the pulpit. No sooner had he discovered his 
mistake in joining the Moravians than he retired from " Fetter 
Lane," taking as many as chose to follow to the " old Foundery," 
where he formed a Society of his own, and drew up a set of rules 
for its direction and government. The Unitas Fratrum thus 
thrown off, Wesley had thrown a millstone from about his neck 
which eventually would have drowned him in that sea of mysti- 
cism and mud in which the United Brethren were then floun- 
dering. Unfettered, he was now ready for his great work of 
awakenment by preaching. He declared he could not do with 
these " silent " people and their " sublime divinity," " brim- 
ful," as Charles said, " of proud wrath and fierceness ; " who 
" love preeminence, and make their proselytes twofold more 
the children of the devil than they were before ; " who believed 
that to obtain faith " we must wait for Christ and be still, with- 
out the use of the means of grace ; " not " go to church ; " 
" not take the sacrament ; " " not read the Scriptures ; " not 
" use private prayer ; " and not " do temporal," or attempt " to 
get spiritual, good." Besides, Wesley saw that Moravianism 
was not aggressive, and could never convert the world, a work 
he had set his heart to accomplish. " Stand ye in the way ; 
ask for the old paths," was his text soon after he got loose 
from " Fetter Lane." 

Separated from the Moravians, the London church doors 
closed against him, and having found " the truth as it is in 
Jesus," Wesley had the world fairly before him, and began 
again his preaching career with redoubled energy. But he 
seemed thrust outside, and as if his path were blocked. The 
thought of preaching on " unconsecrated ground " shocked his 
prejudice. Every inch of him a Churchman, he recoiled from 

112 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

the idea of " unauthorized " and " irregular preaching." But the 
people were " perishing for lack of knowledge," and he could 
not answer for the stupidity of the Church in turning the key 
on him, nor wait the slow movements of the Bishops, who 
might or might not turn the key back. Whitefield, thus early, 
was preaching to congregated thousands in the fields at Kings- 
wood ; the great Teacher had given his unrivalled " Sermon " 
out of doors, and even " on the Mount ; " he had also conse- 
crated fields and lanes by his beautiful parables and miracles, 
and John Wesley, at once and forever, had done with this 
" Church scruple." When Whitefield had to return to Amer- 
ica Wesley stepped into his place at Bristol and Kingswood, 
where he took to the broad fields as his sanctuary, consecrated, 
not by a Bishop, but by the example of his great Master. 
There he stood, amid a huge multitude, assembled round a 
small mount, scattering the bread of life to inquiring men and 
women. Here was an " innovation ; " but it was now Wesley's 
chosen method of awakening the indolent and ignorant of 
his countrymen. For half a century he continued the "un- 
authorized " practice with a constant, continuous success hith- 
erto unknown in the history of Great Britain. The blessed 
results are now known in all lands. The mental torpor of all 
classes was roused, the intellect of the masses of the country 
began to show signs of life, and from that day to the present 
we have had no popular mental slumber such as that which 
overshadowed the land in the time of the first and second 
Georges. A significant fact this ; not a swagger, or an orator- 
ical flourish, for Wesley not only did his own grand work, but 
sent life, and energy, and intellectual activity into every pulpit 
in the three kingdoms. Look at his successors at work to-day 
in the Methodist world ; not a couple of men as then, but we 
see them in 21,000 itinerant ministers, and at least 60,000 local 
preachers— nearly 100,000 men training and guiding the intel- 
lect, and hammering away at the ignorance, of the world, in 
a spirit which was born of the boy who .used to play about 

Wesley's Influence. 113 

and was taken from the window of the blazing Epworth 

Wesley's successful preaching, however, soon led him into 
another difficulty. He required fellow-laborers, for the fields 
were ripe for reaping ; but whence were they to come ? The 
Bishops refused, as before intimated, to " ordain " and set apart 
men for such a work. The world was " in the arms of the wicked 
one," and Wesley, with a word of encouragement from his 
clear-headed mother, could not wait. Spiritual instruction and 
guidance, as well as intellectual awakening, were required, and 
in the face of this pressing need "ordination was a flea-bite." 
All the help he could obtain from the clergy he appropriated, 
but this was utterly inadequate. Then he called out the most 
active, pious, and strong-minded of his converts, and all over 
the country organized his Societies and his preaching staff. 
Here was another great work thrown upon his hands — the 
preparation and training of a' band of uneducated but earnest, 
zealous, and devout men for the work of the ministry. Good, 
robust, hard-headed, wide-awake Englishmen were Wesley's 
first "helpers," "preachers," or "expounders." A new ma- 
chine was this, of Wesley's own construction, but when set in 
motion it worked well. The clever machinist stopped the 
slight creaking now and again with the hand of a genius, by 
adjusting an unsteady wheel, changing an ill-adapted piston or 
crank, or by inserting a ne,w valve. For nearly a century and 
a half the machine has rolled on, and has not been superseded 
by any improved mechanism ; and it promises to work with its 
vast energies against ignorance and vice for centuries yet to 
come. Wesley, indeed, has been blamed for keeping the man- 
agement of his ecclesiastical machinery exclusively in his own 
hands ; but these objectors know not what they say. It was 
quite new, and John Wesley knew best what to do with his 
own invention, and did wisely and well in acting as sole en- 
gineer. He originated it, and while he lived had the right to 
manage it; nor was he likely to allow any tinkering of his 

114 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

handiwork, because he saw unskillful hands might soon break 
it to pieces. To make, to manage, to modify, and to mend his 
own machine was the legitimate work of Wesley, who knew all 
its strong and weak places ; nor was it reasonable to expect him 
to transfer it till called upon by that Providence by which he 
was constituted constructor and governor. 

In the management of his " Itinerancy," "Wesley displayed 
masterly skill. There was no sentimental delicacy which im- 
pelled him to overlook serious faults. He knew his men were 
called to the solemn and serious work, and he resolved to have 
the work done in an earnest and serious way. And though he 
could not sharply check important mistakes and shortcomings, 
he would allow no one to tread on the rights of his " preachers." 
They were all his brethren, and as such were treated with ten- 
der regard ; but in a subordinate sense they were his servants 
and he was their master. Had it not been so, Wesley could 
never have trained up such an earnest body of successful 
laborers. He alone was responsible for their selection, and he 
rightly felt himself responsible for the results. It is idle to 
speak of his course as arbitrary while the whole weight of the 
vast movement was on his own shoulders. His tremendous re- 
sponsibility demanded the display of extraordinary energy and 
the force of all his authority, and his course finds ample justifi- 
cation in its triumphant issues. With the skill of a born ruler 
he ruled his assistants ; and with a ride which won, not simply 
their esteem, but their reverence. When his followers multi- 
plied, and his " helpers " in equal ratio, and when the general 
awakening of interest and thought followed, Wesley at once 
saw the necessity of raising the intellectual standard of his men. 
As this pressed itself on his attention (1746) Dr. Doddridge, 
the most eminent man among the Dissenters of the day — famed 
far and near as a trainer of young men for the ministry — was 
applied to for advice and direction. Wesley asked him for a list 
of the best books as a course of study for preachers. A rather 
formidable programme was supplied, and Wesley set to work. 

"Wesley's Influence. 115 

We find a number of these recommended books in the form of 
" extracts " and " abridgments " in his fifty volumes entitled the 
" Christian Library," printed and published by the energy and 
enterprise of this one man, without money and without patron- 
age. It was a common practice with Wesley when books were 
too costly, to go to work and cheapen them by publishing cheap 
editions, or by abridging and publishing them so as to lower 
their cost. When his men stood in need of intellectual pabulum 
he was not the man to leave them to starve. 

But again, John Wesley showed his countrymen, better than 
ever they had been shown before, the true methods of raising the 
social and domestic life of the lower classes of the community. 
To the objector we need only answer, If it had been done be- 
fore, by whom ? where ? and when f If we ask the last eighteen 
hundred years of history, it only re-echoes these questions. It 
is not down in the annals. It is not even whispered in tra- 
dition. There is no impress on the old and by-gone societies. 
There are no traces in the vast relics of the past. There are 
no music and rhythms of the same thrill and cadence; no 
deep harmonies of the same spiritual life in the songs, and 
ballads, and hymns of any of our forefathers ; and all we want 
is, to know " by whom % " " where ? " and " when ? " 

At the opening of Wesley's career the social condition of 
England was more deplorable even than its intellectual lifeless- 
ness. The Puritan reaction on the morals of the people was 
patent every-where, and the hatred of Puritanism was quite 
lively and fresh, and more earnest and keen, in the reign of 
George II. than it was at the Restoration. The rule of Puri- 
tanism was often severe and even rigorous, and it naturally 
bred up many bitter enemies. This bitterness had lived on for 
generations, and indulged itself in peculiar modes of thought, 
and speech, and habits, as well as in extreme and opposite 
developments of social and political institutions, until it had 
stamped a very ugly impress on the national features. Where 
Puritanism had sought to suppress vice by penal laws, the anti- 

116 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

Puritans had replied to tins by substituting unbridled license. 
Vice and immorality of the coarsest kinds had thus become 
national and ingrained. This was bewailed, too, by men of all 
parties, and it was proposed to correct its more hideous feat- 
ures by act of Parliament. The political plots since Crom- 
well's time were only too true an index of the condition of the 
country. Oates, Bedloe, Dugdale, Dangerfield, Judge Jeffreys, 
and other similar ruffians, truly symbolized the social and moral 
state of England, and little or nothing was being done to stem 
the torrent of vice and crime. Addison and the -" Essayists " 
certainly satirized public vices, but it was like shooting squibs 
at an impregnable fortress, for the vicious simply laughed at 
and despised them. Hogarth tried to paint them out of coun- 
tenance by his powerful pictures, but Hogarth might as well 
have been beating the wind with his paint-brush. There vv&s 
really no virtue in the colors of the painter's palette, nor in the 
stately moralizing of the " Essayists," to reach the hard heart 
and feculent morality of that age. The people had diversions, 
but the most admired and cherished ones were, " bull-baiting,' 1 ' 
" bear-baiting," " badger-baiting," " cock-fighting," and " cock 
throwing." The amusements and the temper of the sight-seers 
were much after the Dahoman fashion, minus the human vic- 
tims. To any but a savage ear the coarse jesting, which can- 
not be repeated, was shocking. If by some sad accident a 
man lost his life, it became a subject of vulgar joke. Among 
poor and rich drunkenness was nearly universal ; nearly every 
body sold gin, till Government imposed a heavy license on its 
sale, and then numbers of men lived by turning informers. 
Every-where men sold their votes just as they would sell eggs 
or shoes. Public immorality was a crying scandal, and Wal- 
pole declared that an " enemy in the field " might " buy the 
country," and that every member of the Commons "had 
his price." Private life was fouled at its fountains, and the 
upper classes were specially distinguished for their licen- 
tiousness, the relation of the details of which modern taste 

"Wesley's Influence. 117 

does not permit. Things' of shame or of pride were so in- 
verted that "fashionable gentlemen" blushed crimson when 
accused of purity. Petty thieving, shop-lifting, house-break- 
ing, highway-robbery, and murder, were well represented in 
the age which managed to capture and hang Dick Turpin and 
Jack Sheppard. But instead of the "whip," the "stocks," 
and the "wheel," the courts imitated the barbarity of the 
" Road," and used the rope and the gallows for thefts of a few 
shillings ; that is, the spirit of the laws had much of the spirit 
of the lawless. The crowd would gladly stone a culprit in the 
pillory, not because they respected public rights, or the penal 
code, but from sheer delight in barbarity. Altogether, social 
morality stank like a cess-pool, and those sunk deepest in the 
mass of impurity were the people John Wesley set himself to- 

Through a life of over fifty-three years of ceaseless toil Wes- 
ley pursued his one object, with results that then amazed the 
civilized world, and which are regarded as among the grandest 
achievements in history. The secret of his loud and earnest 
denunciations of vice and crime may be read in the condition 
of society, which is the amplest justification of his strongest 
language. To aim at the manners merely of such an age would 
have been fruitless, and, therefore, John Wesley aimed at the 
hearts of the people, and in his earnest preaching constantly 
urged the necessity of an inward spiritual life. To his success 
his schools much helped, and he provided a very considerable 
literature, both original and reprint. The Methodist Book 
Room in England is one of the results, whence issue annually 
between four and five million publications ; another result is 
the twenty millions- issued by the various sections of Meth- 
odists in America. Sunday-schools, too, were largely the result 
of John Wesley's labors, for children were taught by members 
of his Society years before Raikes collected them in the parish 
church of Gloucester. These institutions, true safeguards of 
the country, are strongly redolent of the benevolent scheming 

118 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

of Wesley. All appliances were pressed into the service ; the 
first " Bible Society," the " London Missionary Society," and 
the " Church Missionary Society " came of Methodism ; also the 
first " Tract Society," seventeen years in advance of the present 
"Religions Tract Society." Good, wholesome, cheap school- 
books were then scarce, and Wesley wrote a whole batch for 
his- own schools, while he did the same for his " preachers " 
and people in his " Christian Library," and other publications. 
He had at first some difficulty in keeping up the moral tone at 
Kingswood school, but he drew up rules, too strong, perhaps, 
but right in principle, which at this day would work wonders 
in many a limping establishment, where not the teacher but 
parents and children govern. Some of the bitterest wails of 
families issue from the follies which Wesley tried to correct. 
" The children of tender parents, so-called," he writes, " who 
are indeed offering up their sons and daughters to devils, have 
no business here, [at Kingswood,] for the rules will not be 
broken in favor of any person." Lie also started the first 
public medical dispensary, and as soon as Franklin discovered 
that electricity and lightning were identical, he set up an elec- 
trical machine for the public cure of diseases, even before 
" wise men " had done laughing at Franklin. 

The fruits of Wesley's labors on the social and domestic life 
of the people were immense, though his own domestic rela- 
tions were most unfortunate. Here was the second of the 
two mistakes in his long life. Wesley was too much in 
earnest to understand the philosophy and frivolities of court- 
ship, or he would not have allowed either silly flirts or fiery 
vixens to dupe him. His marriage was the great mistake and 
cloud of his life. No man, however, could have borne it with 
more meekness and resignation. It was, indeed, a thirty years' 
gloom, and stands as an impressive warning against ill-considered 
and ill-assorted marriages. A good congenial wife is an angel 
in any man's house. But Wesley's wife, though the widow of 
a most respectable merchant, was a scold and a termagant, who 

Wesley's Influence. 119 

did her utmost to make the good and great man miserable ; an 
ill-bred and worse-disposed virago, who purloined her husband's 
letters from his pockets, interlined them to give spiritual ex- 
pressions a bad meaning, and then gave them to his enemies to 
publish. She took special care that Wesley had no home ; but 
he took special care that this did not interfere with the regular 
progress of his labors. He made the sites and scenes of his 
spiritual triumphs his home, his carriage his almost constant par- 
lor, and the chapels, churches, fields and lanes of the three king- 
doms his temple. 

On the vices of the times Wesley spoke, with no uncertain 
sound. His pamphlet, " The Manners of the Age," was a 
sledge-hammer all round. The fashionable, the idle, the drunk- 
en, the gluttonous, the lewd, the licentious, those addicted to 
finery in furniture or dress, are all unmercifully battered with 
the strokes of a giant ; and in the same vigorous spirit he fer- 
reted out, denounced, and rooted up all traces of immorality 
in his Societies. No man could hide his vices by union with 
the Methodists of John Wesley. For opinions he declared he 
would expel none, so long as they were peaceably held, and 
here he gave the widest latitude ; but for immoralities he had 
no tolerance after earnest warning and rebuke. Incorrigible 
debtors, drunkards, the untruthful, bribers and bribe-takers, the 
impure, and all who indulged in vicious practices, were allowed 
no resting-place with him. An age like that we have just glanced 
at made it impossible to keep the Societies irreproachable, but 
every visitation was celebrated by a vigilant scrutiny, when it was 
perfectly understood that he meant what he said — he " would 
mend or end them." He thrust out the immoral with a prompt- 
ness that told observers, Christ's kingdom is not of this world. 
This, too, was an " innovation " on church usage, and chapel 
usage too, for discipline had well-nigh ceased to distinguish be- 
tween the virtuous and vicious. This strict scrutiny told a tale 
on social habits and usages, and on the domestic decencies and 
comforts of families. Before his death the brutal public games 

120 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

had much abated, tens of thousands of householders were raised 
from the gutters of society to comparative respectability and 
home happiness, and his societies were known every-where as a 
renovated and God-fearing race. The theaters, however, failed 
to be purged of their dirt and impurities, and there was still 
more than sufficient refuse left to support them ; for only four 
years before his death Wesley declared them " sinks of all iniq- 
uity and debauchery." As to business-accommodation-bills he 
says about the same time : " I expel any one out of Society (in 
London) who has any thing to do with the execrable bill-trade." 
To " Sammy " Bradburn he wrote : " You must stop local 
preachers who are loaded with debt." "Expel all guilty of 
bribery." " Extirpate smuggling ; " " smuggling is robbery ; " 
" a smuggler is a thief of the first order, a pickpocket of the 
worst sort ; " " expel all who will not leave off smuggling." 

But Wesley carried his teaching directly into the homes of 
the people, though ever scrupulously careful to avoid interfer- 
ence with private family affairs, and not to place families at 
variance. " Spiritous liquors," he told the people, " were liq- 
uid fire." " They drive men to hell like sheep." " A drunk- 
ard is worse than a beast." At that time almost every other 
house in some districts was a gin-shop. Idleness he denounced 
with all the force of his tongue and pen, and, when that worked 
no cure, he had recourse to expulsion. Some preachers had be- 
come " nervous," and contracted the capability of enduring a 
good deal of rest. He learns " they sometimes sit still a whole 
day ; this can never consist with health. They are not drunk- 
ards, nor gluttons, but they take more food than nature re- 
quires." The best physicians of to-day know all about this 
now, though they rarely trouble their patients with the knowl- 
edge; but Wesley knew it one hundred years ago. About 
certain ridiculous fineries in dress, which were common even 
among the comparatively indigent, and which he strings to- 
gether in a few lines, he speaks in strong language, and finishes 
by the exhortation, " Throw them away ; let them drop with- 

"Wesley's Influence. 121 

out another word." His love of cleanliness was especially con- 
spicuous, and could not fail to influence all with whom he had 
to do. A layman may perhaps be allowed to say that a minis- 
ter, dressed in unprofessional or slovenly clothes, loses half his 
due influence. Both Southey and Sir Walter Scott, when boys, 
appear to have been forcibly struck with Wesley's appearance, 
and while the former repeated Wesley's anecdotes more than 
forty years after, the latter declared that he felt as if he had 
never lost the influence of his blessing, conferred by Wesley as he 
stroked his hand over his boyish head. Here we have a glimpse 
of the force of the man's character on people not specially and 
religiously influenced. And hence the invariable neatness and 
trimness of Wesley, as a matter of example, must have been in- 
fluential on his own people. But Wesley did not trust to ex- 
ample ; he taught constantly, both by voice and pen, the neces- 
sity of both inward and outward purity. His eyes and ears 
were open to every source of vice and immorality, which he 
followed into the homes and haunts of the poor. Besides his 
influence on general society, which was not small, he changed 
the whole habits and deportment of his converts. Of all the 
men of the eighteenth century, there was no mind so generally 
influential as Wesley's ; and none before or since has been any 
thing like so successful in raising the social and domestic con- 
dition of the poor. 

But further, John Wesley stands pre-eminent in the history 
of his country for his skill and wisdom in the politics of re- 
ligion. With the politics of the State he meddled little, over 
a career of sixty-three busy years, yet sufficient to show that he 
was thoroughly loyal to the House of Hanover, a genuine and 
enlightened patriot, and withal a warm friend of the people. But 
the influence of his name and teachings in this sphere has been 
scarcely less beneficent and marked on the position and charac- 
ter of his country. Unlike the Reformers of a previous age, 
his controversy was not with the State and Government, but with 
\ice and irreligion, because he saw there the source and fount 

122 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

ain of all useful progress. He went in to convert men's souls 
to that which was virtuous and pure, and never fouled his 
tongue or his pen with that which was the blotch and bane of 
some previous reforms — the temper and mutterings of incipient 
treason. Against " the powers that be " Wesley had no ravings 
and stormings, though he did not close his mouth, or decline to 
use his pen against oppression and injustice. That passionate 
virulence, that venomous malice, which paralyzes the head and 
the heart, withers the affections and destroys all patriotic sym- 
pathies, found no place in "Wesley's breast. He was not to be 
blinded by other people's political rant and rancor. It is true 
Wesley and his men were charged with " sedition " and every 
thing else that was bad at the time, and every crowd that gath- 
ered to stone and worry the Methodists in their peaceful work 
was foully laid on their shoulders ; but this was in default of a 
better cry. They simply went forth to arouse the people to a 
sense of the importance of spiritual things, and, as Hutton 
says, they went " among thieves, prostitutes, fools, people of 
every class, some of distinction, a few of the learned, merchants, 
and numbers of poor people, who had never entered a place of 
worship — these assembled in crowds and became godly." This 
was sedition in the eyes of the fierce and envious, and in a 
printed sermon Dr. Stebbing — who was only one among scores 
of his class — declared that Wesley " was gathering tumultuous 
assemblies," and " setting aside all authority and rule." 

" There is the closest connection," said Wesley, late in life, 
"between my religion and my political conduct ; the self -same 
authority enjoins me to ' fear God, and to honor the king, ' " 
" It is my religion which obliges me to put men in mind 
to be subject to ' principalities and powers.' Loyalty is, with 
me, an essential point of religion." But no man could hurry 
Wesley into the feuds and turmoils of political parties. Once 
he joined the great Dr. Johnson ; and the giant of literature, 
Tory though be was, the pride and glory of the eighteenth 
century, was proud of his help. Writing to Wesley he said, 

Wesley's Influence. 123 

" That now," with such aid, " I have no reason to be discour- 
aged ; " and then, with his own inimical classical expertness, he 
concludes, " The lecturer was surely in the right who, though he 
saw his audience slinking away, refused to quit the chair while 
Plato stayed." Dr. Johnson was not the man to bandy compli- 
ments such as this except where they were well-deserved. Had 
Wesley devoted himself to politics he must have ranked among 
the foremost statesmen of the age. Macaulay well knew — as 
every man of sense may learn, if he will take the trouble — that 
Wesley had every element necessary to a distinguished political 
position and a commanding statesmanship ; but he knew he 
was called to a higher statesmanship — one linked to the skies, 
and which would last when that of Lord North, Sir Kobert 
Walpole, and William Pitt, had decayed and grown obsolete. 
And we have only to look round us to see that Wesley was 
right. The State lost something in losing the man of strong 
common sense, of quick mental vision, of logical acuteness, of 
unwonted intellectual activity, of transparent honesty of pur- 
pose, of manly self-confidence, of iron will, of robust physical 
6tamina, of* unrivaled power in disentangling intricate compli- 
cations, of extraordinary popular talking and reasoning facul- 
ties, of aptness for minute details and yet keeping a firm grasp 
of great principles, of persuasive eloquence and masterly dis- 
cussion, of command of temper and tongue so necessary in im- 
portant political crises, and of that indefinable and mysterious, 
almost magnetic influence, which wins over, draws, and rules 
large masses of people ; but the State gained more, by Wesley's 
laying deep in the hearts of the people the foundations of good 
government, and by the social, mental, and moral regeneration 
he worked among every class of the community. To Wesley's 
teachings is owing, chiefly, that moderation in the aggregate 
politics of the English people which has made political anarchy 
and revolution forever impossible. It put, as between two 
fiercely contending parties, a moderating and modifying ele- 
ment which, like a huge fly-wheel, steadied and kept from 

124 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

violent friction the whole political engine, and reduced " wear 
and tear" to a minimum. Since that day, discontented and 
turbulent extremes on one side and the other have been kept 
in check. In moments of excitement to this day, the extreme 
votaries of both political parties in the hour of failure hurl 
their rebukes and revenge at the Methodists, whose moderation 
and wisdom have done more than any thing else to keep En- 
gland firm on her legs, the admiration, sometimes the envy, of 
civilized governments almost the world over. 

Of Wesley's religious politics it would be vain to attempt any 
thing like an analysis or even a sketch. Suffice it to say, that the 
same practical wisdom distinguished his system of Church gov- 
ernment as marked his State politics. With slight modification 
it has stood the test of experience, and as yet shows no traces of 
decay. In the history of the Church Wesley stands first and 
foremost as organizer of a Church rule which provides for free- 
dom without license, discipline without laxity or undue severity, 
and Christian fellowship without servitude ; a system of gov- 
ernment which has drawn and bound together multitudes of 
opposite tastes, habits, and sympathies, and at the same time so 
effectually excluded all forms of immorality that it has long 
been a public surprise and shock when a Methodist is punished 
penally. By Wesley a wide berth was given to liberty as to 
opinions, and many of his more radical disciples might learn a 
lesson ; but he had no liberty for sin. To the day of his death 
Charles Wesley remained a " High "-Churchman, and refused 
to be buried out of " consecrated ground." John Wesley, too, 
in his early years, was a " High "-Churchman in name, but as 
light came, and as circumstances pressed, he became a Dissenter 
in fact, and told his friends in his last hours, with his usual 
simplicity, to wrap his body in woolen and place it in the soil 
at City Eoad Chapel ; ground now " consecrated " enough in 
the repose of the bones of the man who accomplished more 
Christian work than any other laborer in the history of the 
Church ; and mingling with a soil which deserves a veneration 

Wesley's Influence. 125 

not less devout than that which holds the sacred ashes of the 
great apostle of the Gentiles. 

But, finally and briefly, John Wesley is the most illustrious 
example in the history of his country of the certain success 
which follows an earnest life of honest labor. It is now toe 
late to recount his labors, or even to sketch an outline. Oui 
space is gone before we have touched the finest feature of his 

But if "Wesley's life was one of unceasing toil, it was one 
of unparalleled success. His teachings as to a new spiritual 
life, and the rules which regulate it, being sown broadcast 
over the country by an organized system of perpetual preach- 
ing, were backed by an ever-present example, careful pastoral 
oversight, kindly, but if necessary, severe discipline, and 
by the omnipotent power of the printing-press. The benef- 
icent labors of Whitefield, of Berridge, of Howell Harris 
in Wales, and of other similar men — only snippings from the 
original Wesley tree — and their results, were fairly Meth- 
odistic. Before Wesley had been at his work half his time, say 
within twenty-five years after he started for Savannah, he had 
planted Method! m in every large town in England and Ireland, 
and in many a hundred hamlets and villages ; while his teach- 
ing had ever been followed up by church guidance and private 
counsel in families. In the very middle of his career he had 
done, without money, without patronage, and in the face of the 
most rancorous enemies, what no other man ever did before, 
nor has ever done since, coupled with his ceaseless traveling 
and preaching. Thus early, while he had above a quarter of a 
century to work, he had printed and sent over the country one 
hundred and thirty vigorously written pamphlets, nine parts of 
his "Journal," and nearly seventy full sized books, besides 
twelve volumes and thirty pamphlets produced jointly by him- 
self and Charles. Lord Holland, Mr. Pitt, Sir R. Walpole, and 
the whole bench of Bishops in at the bargain, could show noth- 
ing approaching such results ; and results, too, which were pat- 

126 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

ent m the improved social and educational condition, and in 
the renovated lives, of tens of thousands. And what if we look 
at the subsequent growth of this Methodist power ? It roused 
all the slumbering Churches in the land to renewed energy — 
an energy which still clings to them — notably in the Establish- 
ment, where we have seen ever since earnest labor and constant 
success. But look at the world of Methodism, with its about 
five millions in Church-fellowship, and over twenty millions 
under the sway of its religious teaching ; and look again, and see 
it daily adding to its victories and multiplying its conquests. 

When Wesley reached the last year of his life, all over the 
Three Kingdoms he saw the fruit of his labors, and the sight 
gladdened his eyes and heart. His one hundred and fifteen cir- 
cuits, two hundred and ninety-four preachers, and seventy-one 
thousand five hundred and sixty-eight Church members, besides 
seventeen missionaries in foreign lands, and nearly equal results 
in America, were enough to cheer his great spirit, and make 
him " thank God for his mercies." He had not " converted 
the world," but he had made such a beginning as England had 
never witnessed before. His old enemies had nearly died out, 
or had repented and turned friends. One half the kingdom 
admired, and the other revered him. The nobility now 
thought it a privilege to hear him talk or preach. Tens of 
thousands still rushed, to his ministrations, and looked upon 
him as the boast and glory of England ; and thousands at 
this day are proud and glad that they have seen and talked 
with men and women who knew and conversed with the ven- 
erable apostle of Methodism. The clergy every-where un- 
locked their church and pulpit doors to him, delighted with 
his simple eloquence and saintly character. "The tide is 
turned," he wrote ; " I have now more invitations to preach in 
churches than I can accept." When Dr. Lowth, Bishop of 
London, would sit below him at table and Wesley remonstrated, 
the Bishop expressed a pretty general feeling when he said : 
" Mr. Wesley, may I be found at your feet in another world." 

"Wesley's Influence. 127 

He was, we say, an example unequaled of the certain success 
which follows an earnest life of honest labor. That is all. 
[Rhetorical ornament or eloquent peroration would only dim 
the dignity and besmear the beauty of one of the very closest 
transcripts of the character of Him who "went about doing 



GOD'S way of making any truth powerful among men has 
always been to translate it into the vernacular of this 
world by incarnating it. He puts it into a human soul, and 
there fans it into a steady flame whose glow kindles other souls. 
The unspoken language of profound conviction is the one 
language which needs no interpreter. 

There is no danger that Chillingworth's grand postulate will 
ever be forgotten : " The Bible, the Bible, the religion of 
Protestants." But it is not merely the Bible written or printed 
which is mighty for the salvation of the world. Men may and 
do refuse to read this ; and often when they read it they 
get but the faintest possible conception, or even an utter mis- 
conception, of its meaning. It is the Bible incarnated, lived, 
wrought into the fabric of human souls, clearly expounded and 
brilliantly illustrated by transformed lives, which extends the 
borders of Christ's kingdom. The epistles of Paul and Peter 
and John are within easy reach of many a hand that never 
opens them, and pass under many an eye that never discerns 
their glories ; but no eye can be utterly blind to the shining 
characters with which a once pierced hand is now perpetually 
tracing " living epistles " to be " known and read of all men." 

This thought is in itself so important, and, moreover, is so 
essential as the very key to the theme of this dissertation, that I 
wish at the outset to unfold it with sufficient fullness and par- 
ticularity to secure a vivid impression of it on the mind of 
every reader. Of course the supreme illustration of it is to be 
sought in the method of the incomparable Teacher. And how 
did he teach ? Not chiefly by what he said or did, but by 

Personal Religious Experience. 129 

what he was. I derogate nothing from the splendor of his say- 
ings, the divineness of his doings, or the magnificence of his 
miracles, when I declare that his chief teaching was Himself. 
He spoke, he did, more yet he was, the Truth. The eternal 
"Word — the revealer of God — the one only medium for the 
manifestation of God to the universe of intelligent creatures — 
" The Word, was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld 
his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full 
of grace and truth." With his own lips and by the pens of 
his amanuenses he completed the system of religious teaching ; 
and on the last page of the Apocalypse he set this solemn seal : 
" If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto 
him the plagues that are written in this book : and if any man 
shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, 
God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out 
of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this 

Since that time almost eighteen hundred years of anxious, 
earnest, profound thinking have passed away, and no man 
singly, nor all men together, have added one iota to the relig- 
ious teaching of Jesus. And yet religious truth is under- 
stood better to-day than in the first century, or the tenth, or the 
eighteenth. How, if there has been no added revelation ? 
There has been the ever-new exposition furnished by many a 
fresh incarnation of the truth. John Robinson, of Leyden, in 
his farewell to the Pilgrim Fathers in 1620, nobly said : " If 
God should reveal any thing to you by any other instrument of 
his, be as ready to receive it as you were to receive any truth 
by my ministry ; for I am very confident the Lord hath more 
truth and light yet to break forth out of his holy Word." 
And Bishop Butler, in his immortal " Analogy of Religion," 
with kindred insight declared : " Nor is it at all incredi- 
ble that a book which has been so long in the possession of 
mankind should contain many truths as yet undiscovered." 
" More truth and light ? " Whence % " To break forth out ol 

130 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

his holy word." How ? He will " reveal " it by some " instru- 
ment of his." " Truths as yet undiscovered % " "Where % In 
" the book." 

Such revelations God has been pleased to make in all the 
Christian centuries. His universal plan for securing any 
marked and substantial advance of Christianity has been to 
incarnate in some one man some grand, fundamental, but neg- 
lected truth. The era of the Protestant Reformation well 
illustrates this. The world has gone down into the chill and 
darkness of a thousand years' night. God has thoughts of 
mercy toward it. How will he bring in the day ? JSTo new 
Bible is given ; there is no new flight of angels ; there are no 
new tongues of fire. A man is the herald of the dawn ; a man 
with great faults, (else his example had been of less value for 
our encouragement,) yet a man whom God taught that " the 
just shall live by faith," and he taught it to the world. But 
his great work was incomplete, and his tempest-tossed soul had 
hardly reached its happy home before the Dark Ages crept 
back again. Ritualism spread its upas blight ; infidelity and 
iniquity were rampant, and even in Protestant England, at 
the close of the seventeenth century, evangelical Christianity 
had almost perished from the earth. Again God honors his an- 
cient plan. ISTot by angels, not by an added revelation, not by a 
new Pentecost, does he bring in that revival of evangelical doc- 
trine and life which has had no serious back-set for more than 
a century and a third, and which, when fairly considered in its 
relation to the grand outmarch of modern evangelistic effort, 
really seems to be the dawn of the Millennium. God intro- 
duces this transcendent era by a man; a man born of that 
woman concerning whom Adam Clarke wrote, " Many daugh- 
ters have done virtuously, but Susannah Wesley has excelled 
them all." This man was at once a Moses, a Paul, and a John. 
He led out God's people from a worse than Egyptian bondage ; 
he preached the Gospel with surpassing power to men of more 
than Athenian refinement and to the most degraded outcasts j 

Personal Religious Experience. 131 

and he was the very apostle of love, for he proclaimed as one 
of the chief articles of his creed that "perfect love" which 
" casteth out fear ; " and he was enabled so to emphasize God's 
universal offer of rescue for the ruined, that the world might 
understand it better than ever before. I soberly believe that 
since it was first uttered no other man has done so much to 
simplify and propagate that divinest of all divine utterances, 
" God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, 
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have 
everlasting life." 

The fullest and most severely dispassionate of Mr. "Wesley's 
biographers, Mr. Tyerman, elaborately justifies his characteriza- 
tion of Methodism as " the greatest fact in the history of the 
Church of Christ ; " and says, " Let the reader think of twelve 
millions of people at present enjoying the benefits of Meth- 
odist instruction ; let him think of Methodism's twenty-one 
thousand eight hundred and seventy-five ordained ministers, 
and of its tens of thousands of lay preachers ; let him think 
of the immense amount of its church property, and of the 
well-nigh countless number of its church publications ; let him 
think of the millions of young people in its schools, and of its 
missionary agents almost all the wide world over ; # let him think 
of its incalculable influence upon other Churches, and of the 
unsectarian institutions to which it has given rise ; and then let 
him say whether the bold suggestion already made is not strictly 
true, namely, that '■Methodism is the greatest fact in the his- 
tory of the Church of Christ.' 1 " 

Now no religious movement ever sprang more directly out 
of the mind and heart of its founder, and received its mold 
and inspiration more immediately from him, than Methodism 
from Wesley. It cannot be understood apart from him, nor he 
apart from it. And what is Methodism ? This volume, which 
presents Wesley in well-nigh every possible phase, abundantly 
answers that question ; this particular article has to do with but 
a single characteristic of Methodism, and yet that characteristic 

132 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

is its grand formative principle ; its central, uniting, explaining 
idea, without which it would not have been. "What is that idea ? 
Personal religious experience. 

Go into any Methodist church (worthy the name) in Europe, 
Asia, Africa, America, or any island of the sea, (there are 
twenty thousand of them in the United States alone,) and listen 
to the hymns, the readings, the prayers, the sermons. Tou 
must perceive that, according to the Methodistic idea, religion 
is no mere code of ethics or dogmas, no empty parade of cere- 
monies, no matter for rapt contemplation and antinomian quiet- 
ism ; but a deep, conscious, all-pervading, triumphant spiritual 
life. A very simple teaching of the Holy Scriptures, you may 
say. Yes, but vastly more simple because of John Wesley. 
When he, a brilliant young tutor in Lincoln College, Oxford, 
was groping his way to the full light of gospel day, Methodism 
was germinating. He found the light, and took it into one of 
the clearest and strongest of intellects, and also into " one of 
the most marvelous hearts which ever the hand of the Creator 
fashioned, or the spirit of the Redeemer warmed." That mas- 
terful intellect was hungrily striving after more and more of 
the knowledge of God, through all the years from its first dawn 
in the pioua Epworth rector's home till, after eighty-eight 
years, the eternal sun-burst flashed upon it. But no such mere 
intellectual seeking, however successful, could have produced 
that immense result called Methodism ; and so, at the age of 
thirty-five, that great heart saw God, transmuted doctrine into 
life, and created Methodism. 

The question is often asked, What is the secret of the power 
of Methodism ? That secret I conceive lies partly in its eccle- 
siastical polity, more in its doctrinal teaching, and most of all 
in its religious experience. On the last of these every thing 
turns. This it is which gave birth to the polity of Methodism 
and molded its beliefs. Its doctrinal system is not new, though 
the manner of its proclamation is. From the beginning until 
now, the Methodists, we think, have been less inclined than any 

Personal Religious Experience. 133 

other branch of the Church to forget the inspired apostolic 
anathema against novelties in doctrine, " Though we, or an 
angel in heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that ye 
have heard, let him be accursed." 

In the course of the ages the old doctrines of the Bible had 
been buried beneath the rubbish of forgetfulness and sacerdo- 
talism. Wesley seized them, lifted them up, shook from them 
the dust of ages which covered them, rekindled them at the al- 
tar of God, and then rushed forth and held them up as blazing 
torches before the eyes of the people. 

He taught that sin was not a peccadillo, not merely a misfort- 
une, but a dark, guilty, damning fact. He taught that salva- 
tion was not a proposal of help, restricted to a certain part of 
the human race, to be conferred at some time no man can tell 
when ; but to every guilty penitent it was a proclamation that 
he might now be saved — fully saved — saved to the uttermost, 
and have the witness of the Holy Ghost to the fact of this sal- 
vation. !No wonder the people listened, for at that time these 
truths came with the force of a new revelation to the masses 
of men. 

I think I shall not be accused of an unjust criticism on our 
Christian brethren not of our faith if I cite an old-fashioned 
Methodist's sarcastic representation of the teaching prevailing 
in the communities in which he moved. It was this : " Re- 
ligion — if you seek it, you wont find it ; if you find it, you 
wont know it ; if you know it, you haven't got it ; if you get 
it, you can't lose it ; if you lose it, you never had it." The 
Methodists reversed every clause of this description, and made 
it run : Religion — if you seek it, you will find it ; if you find 
it, you will know it ; if you know it, you have got it ; if you 
get it, you may lose it ; if you lose it, you must have had it. 

All the doctrines our fathers asserted were old, but they 
made them new, fresh, vivid, and powerful. This effect is es- 
pecially manifest in their teaching of that most experimental 
doctrine of the witness of the Spirit. God has given Method- 

134 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

ism the honor of making millions of men understand it. This 
doctrine was almost a dead letter in God's holy book when John 
"Wesley arose. Yet the teaching lay plainly on the very surface 
of the Bible. Enoch " had this testimony, that he pleased 
God." David had his feet taken " out of a horrible pit and 
out of the miry clay," and a new song put into his mouth. 
Paul and Peter and John told the same blessed story. Yet I 
doubt if a thousand men in all England, one hundred and fifty 
years ago, could have said that they knew their sins forgiven. 
But after fifteen years' such service of God as has rarely been 
equaled, John Wesley became consciously a son of God. While 
listening one evening, in a Moravian meeting, to the reading 
of one of Luther's commentaries, he felt his heart " strangely 
warmed ; " and then he knew, and was able to teach, the mean- 
ing of that inspired declaration, " The Spirit itself beareth wit- 
ness with our spirit that we are the children of God." The 
glorious doctrine of the witness of the Spirit was incarnated in 
him, and revealed through him to millions more. In that hour 
Methodism was born. 

So manifest and vital is the connection between Wesley's 
personal experience of saving grace and the success of the re- 
ligious movement he inaugurated, that We must trace the suc- 
cessive steps of that marvelous experience. From infancy he 
was surrounded by the fragrance of a most sincere, if some- 
what austere, ancestral piety. He was descended from a royal 
line of God's faithful witnesses. Daily prayers and Scripture 
readings were warp and woof of his childhood. Like most 
men who have been both great and good, he had one of the 
best of mothers, one from whom he manifestly inherited his 
talent for logic as well as for saintship. Who can tell how 
much the world owed to that devout and devoted mother-love 
which breathed out in this concluding sentence of many a let- 
ter, " Dear Jackey, I beseech Almighty God to bless thee ! " 
He gave early evidence of sincere piety, and was admitted by 
his strict father to the communion at the age of eight. Until 

Peksonal Religious Expekience. 135 

he left home to attend the Charter-house school, in his eleventh 
year, he seems to have been an unusually thoughtful and con- 
sistent child-Christian. There, Mr. Tyerman tells us, " he lost 
the religion which had marked his character from the days of 
infancy;" and adds: "Terrible is the 'danger when a child 
leaves a pious home for a public school. John Wesley entered 
the Charter-house a saint and left it a sinner." He supports 
this startling indictment by citing Wesley's own words : " I 
was negligent of outward duties, and continually guilty of in- 
ward sins." But the self-accuser adds that these " sins " were 
" such as are not scandalous in the eye of the world ; " and 
sums up this period thus : " However, I still read the Script- 
ures, and said my prayers morning and evening. And what 1 
now hoped to be saved by was : 1. Not being so bad as other 
people ; 2. Having still a kindness for religion ; and, 3. Read- 
ing the Bible, going to church, and saying my prayers." So 
the " saint " of ten had not become so very grievous a " sinner " 
at seventeen after all ; albeit there was a touch of Pharisaism 
in his piety. 

Mr. Tyerman paints Wesley's undergraduate life at Oxford 
in similarly dark colors, thus: "When we say that from the 
age of eleven to the age of twenty-two Wesley made no pre- 
tensions to be religious, and, except on rare occasions, habitually 
lived in the practice of known sin, we only say what is equally 
true of many of the greatest, wisest, and most godly men that 
have ever lived. The fact is humiliating and ought to be de- 
plored, but why hide it in one case more than in another? 
Wesley soon became one of the holiest and most useful men 
living ; but except the first ten years of his childhood, he was, 
up to the age of twenty- two, by his own confession, an habitual, 
if not profane and flagrant sinner." " He thoughtlessly con- 
tracted debts greater than he had means to pay." " His letters 
are without religious sentiments, and his life was without a re- 
ligious aim." " He had need to repent as in dust and ashes." 
The same biographer adds, however, within a dozen lines, 

136 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

" Wesley was far too noble and too high-principled to seek ad- 
mission into so sacred an office as the Christian ministry merely 
to secure for himself a crust of bread." Another very able 


and appreciative student of Mr. "Wesley's character, Dr. Bigg, 
insists that these comments of Mr. Tyerman are " altogether in 
an exaggerated tone of austerity ; and adds, " He writes as if 
such letters cast shadows on the character of young Wesley ; 
he declares quite unwarrantably that from the age of eleven to 
twenty-two, Wesley was ' by his own confession an habitual, if 
not profane and flagrant, sinner,' and that he 'thoughtlessly 
contracted debts greater than he had means to pay ! ' We 
must say that there is no evidence whatever to justify such 
language as this. Wesley seems always to have kept at a re- 
mote distance from any thing like ' profane and flagrant sin ; ' 
he was ' a sinner ' as moral and virtuous youths are sinners, but 
only so ; and if he could not make ends meet on forty pounds 
a year, there is no evidence whatever that he 'thoughtlessly 
contracted debts.' " 

Mr. Badcock, in the "Westminster Magazine," gives this 
picture of Wesley after he had taken his degree at the age of 
twenty-one : " He appeared the very sensible and acute colle- 
gian ; a young fellow of the finest classical taste, of the most 
liberal and manly sentiments." 

Then came one great crisis of his life ; let me rather say, then 
began the one critical epoch, which lasted thirteen years, and 
terminated only when the intensely laborious, heroically faith- 
ful, despairingly weary " servant " became consciously a rejoic- 
ing " son " of God. He had finished his collegiate course, a 
thorough and elegant scholar. What should he do % In those 
days, when so little was thought about a divine call to the minis- 
try, it would have been strange if any young man born, bred, and 
educated as he was, and with such a moral and religious char- 
acter, had not at least considered the question of entering that 
sacred office. He had such thoughts, and wrote of them to his 
parents. They encouraged his incipient plan, and his mother, 

Personal Keligious Experience. 137 

especially, gave him excellent advice. He immediately began 
a most painstaking, conscientious, but blindly ascetic prepara 
tion for holy orders. His characteristic account of it runs thus : 
" "When I was about twenty-two my father pressed me to enter 
into holy orders. At the same time the providence of God direct- 
ing me to Kempis' ' Christian's Pattern,' I began to see that 
true religion was seated in the heart, and that God's law ex- 
tended to all our thoughts as well as words and actions. I was, 
however, angry at Kempis for being too strict ; though I read 
him only in Dean Stanhope's translation. Yet I had frequently 
much sensible comfort in reading him, such as I was an utter 
stranger to, before. Meeting likewise with a religious friend, 
which I never had till now, I began to alter the whole form of 
my conversation, and to set in earnest upon a new life. I set 
apart an hour or two a day for religious retirement ; I commu- 
nicated every week ; I watched against all sin, whether in word 
or deed ; I began to aim at, and to pray for, inward holiness ; so 
that now, doing so much and living so good a life, I doubted 
not that I was a good Christian." 

It is well for sound doctrine and evangelical religion that 
the seed of truth thus sown in this eminently honest, earnest, 
and capacious soul, did not by a miraculous operation of grace 
burst forth into sudden flower and fruit. The slow germina- 
tion, growth, unfolding, and maturing of the precious seed in 
Wesley's heart and life have made the way of salvation easy to 
millions of men. The divine method is " first the blade, then 
the ear, then the full corn in the ear." We are reminded of 
Israel's forty years' schooling in the wilderness ; of the apostles 
who needed, (for our sakes no less that for their own,) three 
years under the Saviour's personal tuition, and ten days' wait- 
ing for the Pentecost after that ; of Paul's theological course in 
Arabia, and of Bunyan's thrilling experiences recorded in his 
" Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners." God's great sol- 
diers are wont to undergo a severe course of drill and discipline 
before achieving those victories which astonish men and angels. 

138 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

In the thirteen years from the age of twenty-two to that of 
thirty-five Wesley met and vanquished, not in bitter and be- 
clouding controversy with, other men, but on the battle-field of 
his own soul, all the chief errors concerning the subject of per- 
sonal religious experience. For years of such devout religious- 
ness and such strenuous activity in doing good as have never 
been excelled, he was by turns a legalist, a mystic, an ascetic, 
and a ritualist, with scarcely a glimmering of that personal, 
simple, saving, triumphant faith which these Egypt and wil- 
derness years were preparing him to teach. The downright 
sincerity and quaintness with which he recorded these experi- 
ences give his Journal and his letters a romantic charm. 

The writers whom he providentially fell in with at this 
period, and whose works had most to do with forming his 
opinions, partly by their direct teaching and partly by the stern 
antagonism they provoked, were Thomas a Kempis, Jeremy 
Taylor, and William Law. They were always too somber for him, 
and he recoiled from the morbid tinge of their teachings ; and 
yet they taught him. He promptly drew back from Jeremy 
Taylor's mournful representations as to the necessity of perpet- 
ual, sorrowful uncertainty on the point of the penitent sinner's 
pardon and acceptance. As early as 1725 he obtained a clear 
glimpse, doctrinally, of what he did not fully know experiment- 
ally until 1738 — the feasibility of a conscious salvation. This 
is manifest in his writing thus to his mother : " If we dwell in 
Christ, and Christ in us, (which he will not do unless we are 
regenerate,) certainly Ave must be sensible of it. If we can 
never have any certainty of our being in a state of salvation, 
good reason it is that every moment should be spent, not in 
joy, but in fear and trembling ; and then, undoubtedly, we are in 
this life of all men most miserable. God deliver us from such 
a fearful expectation as this ! " 

To Thomas a Kempis' " Christian's Pattern " and to Jeremy 
Taylor's " Holy Living and Dying " he is manifestly indebted, 
among other things, for some of the clearest early conceptions 

Personal Religious Expeeience. 139 

which lie afterward formulated in his teaching concerning 
Christian Perfection. He says, " I saw that simplicity of inten- 
tion and purity of affection — one design in all we speak and do, 
and one desire ruling all our tempers — are indeed the wings of 
the soul, without which she can never ascend to God. I sought 
after this from that hour." 'The " Pattern " taught him this. 
And after reading the " Holy Living and Dying " — devouring, 
I may rather say, for no words can well set forth the intensity 
of his hunger for the truth — he wrote, " Instantly I resolved to 
dedicate my life to God — all my thoughts and words and ac- 
tions — being thoroughly convinced there was no medium, but 
that every part of my life (not some only) must either be a sac- 
rifice to God or myself, that is, the devil." 

In September, 1725, "Wesley was ordained deacon by Bishop 
Potter, whom he always held in high esteem, calling him " a 
great and good man," and recording in a sermon written more 
than half a century later an advice given him by the Bishop at 
the time of his ordination, and for which he had often thanked 
Almighty God, namely, that " if he wished to be extensively 
useful, he must not spend his time in contending for or against 
things of a disputable nature, but in testifying against notori- 
ous vice, and in promoting real and essential holiness." In 
March, 1726, he was elected Fellow of Lincoln College ; and 
eight months later he was appointed Lecturer and Moderator 
of the classes. " Leisure and I have taken leave of one another," 
he wrote ; " I propose to be busy as long as I live." In his 
plan of study, which he closely followed, he devoted Mondays 
and Tuesdays to the Greek and Koman classics ; Wednesdays 
to logic and ethics ; Thursdays to Hebrew and Arabic ; Fridays 
to metaphysics and natural philosophy ; Saturdays to oratory 
and poetry ; and Sundays to divinity ; filling up the interstices 
of time with French, optics, and mathematics. In order to 
prosecute such studies and to lead a life of such strenuous re- 
ligious devotion, he reckoned minutes of time as more precious 
than rubies. He therefore deliberately resolved to rid himself 

140 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

of all unprofitable associates. He says : " When it pleased God 
to give me a settled resolution to be not a nominal but a real 
Christian, . I resolved to have no acquaintance by chance, 
but by choice ; and to choose such only as would help me on 
my way to heaven." 

The influence of "William Law upon him at about this time 
is very manifest. He writes : " I began to see more and more 
the value of time. I applied myself closer to study. I 
watched more carefully against actual sins. I advised others 
to be religious according to that scheme of religion by which I 
modeled my own life. But meeting now with Mr. Law's 
' Christian Perfection ' and ' Serious Call,' although I was 
much offended at many parts of both, yet they convinced me 
more than ever of the exceeding height and breadth and depth 
of the law of God. The light flowed in so mightily upon my 
soul that every thing appeared in a new view. I cried to God 
for help ; resolved, as I had never done before, not to prolong 
the time of obeying him. And by my continued endeavor to 
keep his whole law, inward and outward, to the utmost of my 
power, I was persuaded that I should be accepted of him, and 
that I was even then in a state of salvation." 

His bondage to legalism is very evident. He must grope in 
the wilderness for weary years in order that he may be able to 
point out to hosts of weary pilgrims the short road to Canaan. 
The austerities, the self-denying charities, and the heroic home- 
mission work of the " Holy Club," of which he was the head, 
did not satisfy his ideal nor relieve his perturbed spirit. No 
man on earth studied religion more earnestly, nor practiced it 
more zealously. And at the time, it seems never to have oc- 
curred to him that he was wearing a garment of self -righteous- 
ness. He saw his error later, and said : " In this refined way 
of trusting to my own works and my own righteousness, (so 
zealously inculcated by the mystic writers,) I dragged on heav- 
ily, finding no comfort or help therein, till the time of my leav- 
ing England." He had not forsaken " this refined way " of try- 

Personal Religious Experience. 141 

ing to establish a righteousness of his own when he went out 
to Georgia as a missionary. Before going he wrote a letter 
stating his reasons, the chief being these : " My chief motive is 
the hope of saving my own soul. I cannot hope to attain 

the same degree of holiness here which I may there." But be- 
sides such personal motives, he was moved by the brilliant pict- 
ure his fancy painted of the native Indians nocking round him and 
eagerly accepting the Gospel. When he reaches Georgia, how- 
ever, we find him not the grand Pauline missionary, flying every- 
where as the flaming herald of an impartial salvation, offered 
freely to all by a God who is " no respecter of persons." "We 
must confess rather to beholding a strait-laced, exclusive High- 
Churchman, who did but little good and some manifest harm, 
and retired from the scene of his humiliating defeat in two 
years — as Mr. Tyerinan styles him, " in point of fact a Pusey- 
ite, a hundred years before Dr. Pusey flourished." Dr. Rigg 
says, " The resemblance of his practices to those of modern 
High- Anglicans is, in most points, exceedingly striking. He had 
early, and also forenoon, service every day ; he divided the morn- 
ing service, taking the litany as a separate service ; he inculcated 
fasting (real hard fasting, his was) and confession and weekly 
communion ; he refused the Lord's Supper to all who had not 
been episcopally baptized ; he insisted on baptism by immer- 
sion ; he rebaptized the children of Dissenters ; and he refused 
to bury all who had not received episcopalian baptism." The 
same author, whose estimate of Wesley is exceedingly high, and 
who zealously, and, as I think, ably and justly defends him 
against some of Mr. Tyerman's severe animadversions, is con- 
strained to characterize him at this period as an " ascetic Ritual- 
ist of the strictest and most advanced class." 

Mr. Wesley's own retrospect of his experiences in Georgia is 
full of thrilling interest. In all the range of autobiography I 
know nothing more searching, instructive, and pathetic, than 
the merciless self-dissection of this great, earnest, honest soul. 
The full impression of it cannot be felt except by approaching 

142 The "Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

it gradually, and then reading it entire in a sympathetic mood. 
The whole passage is quite too long for insertion here ; but we 
must solemnly pause over the most impressive paragraphs : — 

" It is now two years and almost four months since I left my 
native country in order to teach the Georgian Indians the na- 
ture of Christianity ; but what have I learned myself in the 
meantime \ Why, (what I least of all expected,) that I, who 
went out to America to convert others, was never myself con- 
verted to God. ' I am not mad,' though I thus speak ; but ' I 
speak the words of truth and soberness ; ' if haply some of 
those who still dream may awake, and see that as I am so are 

" Are they read in philosophy ? So was I. In ancient or 
modern tongues ? So was I also. Are they versed in the science 
of divinity ? I, too, have studied it many years. Can they talk 
fluently upon spiritual things ? The very same could I do. Are 
they plenteous in alms ? Behold, I gave all my goods to feed 
the poor. Do they give of their labor as well as of their 
substance ? I have labored more abundantly than they all. Are 
they willing to suffer for their brethren? I have thrown up 
my friends, reputation, ease, country ; I have put my life in 
my hand, wandering into strange lands ; I have given my body 
to be devoured by the deep, parched up with heat, consumed 
by toil and weariness, or whatever God should please to bring 
upon me. But does all this (be it more or less it matters not) 
make me acceptable to God ? Does all I ever did or can know, 
say, give, do, or suffer, justify me in his sight ? Yea, or the 
constant use of all the means of grace ? (which, nevertheless, 
is meet, right, and our bounden duty.) Or that I know noth- 
ing of myself ; that I am, as touching outward moral righteous- 
ness, blameless ? Or, to come closer yet, the having a rational 
conviction of all the truths of Christianity ? Does all this give 
me a claim to the holy, heavenly, divine character of a Chris- 
tian ? By no means. 

" This, then, have I learned in the ends of the earth, that I 

Personal Religious Experience. 143 

' am fallen short of the glory of God ; ' that my whole heart is 
' altogether corrupt and abominable ; ' and consequently my 
whole life. 

"If it be said that I have faith, (for many such things have 
I heard from many miserable comforters,) I answer, So have 
the devils — a sort of faith ; but still they are strangers to the 
covenants of promise. The faith I want is, ' A sure trust 

and confidence in God that through the merits of Christ my 
sins are forgiven, and I reconciled to the favor of God.' 

" I went to America to convert the Indians ; but O ! who 
shall convert me ? Who, what, is he that will deliver me from 
this evil heart of unbelief ? I have a fair summer religion. I 
can talk well ; nay, and believe myself, while no danger is near ; 
but let death look me in the face, and my spirit is troubled. 
Nor can I say, ' To die is gain ! ' 

" I have a sin of fear, that when I've spun 
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore! " 

Surely the day of full redemption draweth nigh. Such a 
spirit cannot much longer" pant after God in vain. Six days 
after he landed in England, on February 7, 1738, he fell in 
with Bohler. In his Journal he notes this day as " a day much 
to be remembered." 

During the three months which elapsed before Bohler's de- 
parture to America, "Wesley lost no opportunity to sit at the 
feet of this pious Moravian, who was almost ten years his junior. 
His intercourse with the Moravians on ship-board, and with 
Spangenburg in Georgia, had impressed his mind with the con- 
viction that " the secret of the Lord " was with these simple- 
hearted people. Bolder told him true faith in Christ was in- 
separably attended by (1) dominion over sin, and (2) constant 
peace, arising from a sense of forgiveness. Wesley thought 
this a new gospel, and stoutly disputed it. Bohler said, " Mi 
f rater, mi f rater, exeoquenda est ista tua philosqphia ! " 
And "purged out" this "philosophy" speedily was. Before 

144 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

many days Wesley declared himself " clearly convinced of un- 
belief — of the want of that faith whereby alone we are saved." 
But lest any one should put a meaning into these words such 
as his maturer experience would not approve, let it be remem- 
bered that his own note at this place in the revised edition of 
his early Journals is, " with the full Christian salvation." 

The legalist is now dead ; the High-Churchman must die also. 
A month later, having been " more and more amazed " by Bott- 
ler's " account of the fruits of living faith," and having tested 
this strange teaching by critically comparing it with the Greek 
Testament, he writes, "Being at Mr. Fox's Society, my heart 
was so full that I could not confine myself to the forms of 
prayer that we were accustomed to use there. Neither do I 
purpose to be confined to them any more, but to pray indiffer- 
ently with a form or without, as I may find suitable to partic- 
ular occasions." Surely, " the new wine " was working might- 
ily in "the old bottles." 

Driven from every other refuge, Wesley now doubted about 
salvation in the present tense. But again his sagacious and 
God-taught teacher sent him to the Scriptures and to experi- 
ence. The now thoroughly docile pupil, to his " utter aston- 
ishment, found scarce any instances there of other than instanta- 
neous conversions," and was presently confronted by " several 
living witnesses." " Here ended my disputing," he writes ; " I 
could now only cry out, 'Lord, help thou my unbelief?' I 
was now thoroughly convinced ; and, by the grace of God, I 
resolved to seek this faith unto the end." 

This diligent search continued another month, and then 
came the day of all days to this " chosen vessel of the Lord." 
At the mature age of thirty-five, after thirteen intensely relig- 
ious but most unsatisfactory years, he entered into the heaven 
on earth of a conscious salvation. " On May 24, 1738, at five 
in the morning he opened his Testament on these words: 
' There are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, 
that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.' On 

Persona:* Religious Experience. 145 

leaving home he opened on the text, ' Thou art not far from 
the kingdom of God.' In the afternoon he went to St. Paul's 
Cathedral, where the anthem was full of comfort. At night 
he went to a society-meeting in Aldersgate-street, where a 
person read Luther's " Preface to the Epistle to the Romans," 
in which Luther teaches what faith is, and also that faith alone 
justifies. Possessed of it, the heart is " cheered, elevated, ex- 
cited and transported with sweet affections toward God. Re- 
ceiving the Holy Ghost, through faith, the man is renewed 
and made spiritual," and he is impelled to fulfill the law " by 
the vital energy in himself." While this preface was being 
read, Wesley experienced an amazing change. He writes, " I 
felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, 
Christ alone, for salvation ; and an assurance was given me 
that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from 
the law of sin and death ; and I then testified openly to all 
there what I now first felt in my heart." 

I have detailed thus fully the process of experience through 
which this pioneer mind and heart were divinely led, because I 
believe the very experience itself of John Wesley is far richer 
in lessons of permanent value than any didactic statements 
concerning it can be. Facts are God's great teachers. 

But this article would be incomplete without a rapid survey 
of the chief channels through which this hard-won experience 
of John Wesley has poured itself around the globe, and es- 
pecially has richly fructified the religious life of the two fore- 
most of the nations. I need not dwell upon those published 
works which will ever hold the first place among the standards 
of Methodist doctrine ; nor on his hymns, which still better en- 
shrine his very heart; nor on the still more precious sacred 
lyrics of the David of modern psalmody, his brother Charles. 
Nor need I now refer to the immense influence of Wesley's ex- 
perience on his preaching and on the preaching of tens of 
thousands of his successors, and indeed on very much of the 
teaching on the subject of experimental religion beyond the 

146 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

pale of Methodism. All these topics, so immediately germane 
to mine, are amply treated elsewhere in this volume. 

My final office is rather to call attention to the chief of the 
means of grace by which Methodism has always promoted per- 
sonal religious experience — the love-feast and the class-meeting. 
It would be very interesting, if the limits assigned me would 
permit it, fully to trace the rise and progress, the methods and 
results, of these peculiar institutions of Methodism. These 
topics are, however, very familiar, and must now be passed with 
a rapid glance. 

Methodism, from its very beginning, recognized and largely 
employed the social principle as an agency of grace. It is true 
that the chief of its methods for doing this, the class-meeting, 
was no contrivance of Mr. "Wesley's, but a providential fact. 
He had it before he knew it. He was thinking of " quite an- 
other thing," viz., paying the debts of the Society at Bristol. 
The proposition to raise a penny a week from each member 
was opposed, as being burdensome to the poor. # One said, 
" Then put eleven of the poorest with me ; and if they can 
give any thing, well, I will call on them weekly ; and if they 
can give nothing, I will give for them as well as for myself ; 
and each of you call on eleven of your neighbors weekly, re- 
ceive what they give, and make up what is wanting." It was 
done ; this purely financial plan could not fail, in the care of 
godly leaders, speedily to take on a spiritual character also. 
Wesley's quick discernment saw the jewels God had thrown 
into his lap while he was looking for pennies, and said, " It 
struck me immediately, This is the thing, the very thing we 
have wanted so long. I called together all the leaders of the 
classes — so we used to term them and their companies — and 
desired that each would make a particular inquiry into the 
behavior of those he saw weekly. They did so. Many disor- 
derly walkers were detected. Some turned from the evil of 
their ways. Some were put away from us. Many saw it with 
fear, and rejoiced unto God with reverence." Soon after he 

Personal Religious Experience. 147 

made a similar arrangement in London, and thus concluded 
his account of it : " This was the origin of our classes, for 
which I can never sufficiently praise God ; the unspeakable 
usefulness of the institution having ever since been more and 
more manifest." 

But if the class-meeting might almost be termed a happy 
accident, not so with "Wesley's early and careful recognition of 
its chief underlying principle, the need of Christian fellow- 
ship. Three years before the first class-meeting was held he 
had instituted society-meetings, of which he was the leader, and 
which were very like the modern inquiry meetings. In the 
same spirit he revived the ancient agape in the quarterly love- 
feast, admission to which could be secured only by means of a 
ticket furnished by the pastor. 

These social means of grace were immensely important to 
Methodism. They were the altars on which the sparks of 
grace were kept alive, and the glowing brands fanned into in- 
tenser flame. It may well be doubted whether Methodism 
would have survived fifty years, or traveled a hundred miles be- 
yond its birth-place, without them. Methodism must "go." 
Its evangelists felt the burning inspiration of the Great Com- 
mission in their hearts evermore. But they could not "go" 
unless there were faithful men to stay and keep the flock to- 
gether, and gather the lambs into the fold, and go after the 
stragglers. Unless when they returned they could find that 
they were doing a work in its nature permanent, they would 
have no heart to go on. An itinerant ministry must be supple- 
mented by an abiding local sub-pastorate. 

Earnest Methodists cannot, therefore, observe the partial de- 
cay of the distinctively Methodistic means of grace without 
deep concern. God has highly honored those means. They 
have led to the conversion, the reclamation, and the sanctifica- 
tion of myriads of souls. In times of revivals the attendance 
on them is much increased. Other denominations have found 

great advantage in imitations of them in their inquiry meet- 

148 The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 

ings, conference meetings, and experience meetings. To all 
eternity millions of happy spirits will praise God because on 
earth they " spake often one to another " in Methodist love- 
feasts and class-meetings. 

Many of the most spiritual ministers and laymen among us 
feel sure that they discern a close connection between a faith- 
ful attendance of these means of grace and a distinct, glowing, 
zealous, personal experience ; and lament the too-prevalent, half- 
and-half, Church-and-world style of religious profession, as the 
normal result of vacant class-rooms and infrequent and sparsely 
attended love-feasts. If a young convert is promptly assigned 
to a suitable class, in charge of a competent and faithful leader, 
and will regularly attend it — if he finds himself encouraged 
weekly by glowing experiences, fed by wise counsels, and in- 
spired by hearty singing — there is little probability that he will 
ever backslide, and great probability that if God whispers into 
his soul a call to the ministry, or to some grand form of lay ac- 
tivity, he will hear and heed it. 

It is one glory of Methodism that it has always been elastic, 
and adaptable to varied and varying conditions. It is no re- 
proach to it that its methods in England and America are dif- 
ferent. The Methodism of a strong self-supporting Church in 
China in A.D. 1900 may differ widely in non-essentials from that 
of its mother Church. The forms by which the ends aimed at 
in the love-feast and in the class-meeting shall be achieved may 
be gradually changed ; but those ends must be achieved some- 
how, or the glory of Methodism will have departed, and its 
very name will perish from the earth. 


THE history of the Church in its evolution through the ages 
is a perpetual attestation to the immensity of the divine 
resources, not only in ordaining and rendering all events sub- 
servient to its interests, but in bringing forward at the appointed 
time those types of mental and moral manhood, as instrumental 
agencies, which its ever-advancing necessities may require. How 
does history authenticate the fact that God not only appoints 
men gifted with plenary inspiration, but men uninspired, to ac- 
complish his purpose in the regeneration of the world ? When 
in the post-apostolic period it became necessary to formulate 
and vindicate the fundamental truths of Christianity against 
the Gnostic and Arian heresies, Athanasius and Cyril appear, 
whose searching and subtle intellects confronted the wondrous 
problems of Deity, and gave those definitions of the person of 
Christ and the Trinity which have commanded the homage of 
the universal Church. 

Early in the history of Christian life and worship, the de- 
mand arose for the enthusiasm of song. Gifted with devout 
and poetic skill, John of Damascus, and in later times Bernard, 
penned their hymns, while Gregory, and Ambrose of Milan, 
in their chants and cantatas voiced -these noble hymns in all 
the melodies of music. 

Long before a sacred literature was born, we find that genius 
consecrated its powers, and became an educating force by which 
the multitudes were familiarized with religious thought. In 
the cartoons and statuary of Raphael and Angelo, incarnated 
in fresco and stone, there was an ever-open gospel in which 
were recorded, in tinted and glowing colors, the leading events 
of Christianity. It was in the mediaeval times, when the inner 

150 The "Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

life of the Church had gone down to zero, that the schools of 
the Mystics were originated, and the writings of Thomas a 
Kempis, Molinos, and Fenelon, attest how deep was the spirit- 
ual life which God had commissioned them to awaken. At 
length papacy, insolent as in the times of Hildebrand, aveng- 
ing in its cruelty and abject in its corruption, became a burden 
intolerable to the nations, when Luther, Zwingli, and Melanch- 
thon arose, renounced the yoke of Borne, and led the way in 
the Eeformation of the fifteenth century. Never, in the his- 
tory of the Church, did a great leader appear more essential 
than in the period immediately preceding the great Methodist 

The early part of the eighteenth century is one of the darkest 
pages in the religious history of England. The Restoration wit- 
nessed a complete reaction from the stringencies which marked 
society under the puritanic rule of Cromwell. It gave rise to 
a libertine literature, which found its expression in the nameless 
degradation of its dramatists, and the social corruption which 
abounded in the higher life of the nation. The infidelity of 
Lord Herbert had alienated the aristocracy from the Church, 
while that of Tyndal and Wolston had taken hold of the popu- 
lar mind, so that the press abounded with the most gross and 
ribald attacks on all that was noble and virtuous in man. The 
clergy of the Establishment were intolerant in the extreme, and 
with but few exceptions made no pretensions to piety, and in 
some instances not even to morality itself. The Non-conform- 
ist successors of Doddridge had inclined toward the principles 
of Socinianism, while the poorer classes were steeped in igno- 
rance, and had descended to a depravity well-nigh beyond con- 
ception. The impartial historian frankly admits that all lan- 
guage fails to adequately picture the deterioration which rested 
alike on all classes, from titled nobles to barbarous toilers in 
the grim and dismal mines of the North. 

In the obscure rectory of Epworth, amid the marshy fens of 
Lincolnshire, a child was born to one of the noblest mothers 

Wesley as a Revivalist. 151 

that God ever gave to counsel and inspire a son ; a son who, in 
the allotment of Heaven, was to become the modern apostle to 
revive the Church and regenerate society ; a son whose line was 
destined to go out into all the earth, and his words unto the 
ends of the world. The name of Wesley will gather strength 
with the years ; and already he stands as one of the most prom- 
inent and remarkable agents whom Providence has ever brought 
forward for the accomplishment of a great work. Feeble in 
its beginnings, the ages only will tell the grandeur of its con- 
summation. In briefly sketching the elements which conspire 
to render Wesley foremost of all revivalists whom the Church 
has ever witnessed, we propose to notice the System of Truth 
which he accepted, the Character of his Spiritual Life, the 
Style of his Preaching, and his Power of Organization as seen 
in the means which he employed to give permanence to his 

His Theology. 

As a first and fundamental point, we notice that system of 
theological truth which he formulated and has given as a her- 
itage to the Church. It has seldom fallen to the lot of man to 
be endowed with a mind so full, so many-sided, as that which 
was intrusted to Wesley. While it would be untrue to claim 
for him the inductive f>ower of Bacon ; or to assert that he could 
walk the inner sanctuary of the soul with the stately tread of 
Shakspeare, who flashed the torch-light of his genius into the 
remotest corners of the heart ; or that he could wield the phil- 
osophic argument of Butler ; — yet the more profoundly we 
study his natural endowments the more we are impressed with 
their remarkable character. He was gifted with a breadth of 
understanding and a logical acumen which enabled him to grasp 
any subject which came within the limits of human thought. 
In him there was reverence for authority, and yet a mental 
daring which led him into new fields of investigation ; an im- 
partiality which refused to be biased, but calmly weighed the 
claims of rival systems. He had a spiritual insight which truly 

152 The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 

belongs to higher souls, by which they discern the affinities 
and relations of things spiritual. In addition to these natural 
endowments, he enjoyed that wide scholarship and rare culture 
which the then first university in the world could supply. 
Thus furnished, he early in his career laid the foundations of 
that theological system which, it is not too much to say, is at 
once the most comprehensive, scriptural, and best adapted for 
evangelistic work which the schools have ever given to the 
Church ; — a system which is ever- widening in its influence, mod- 
ifying other types of religious thought, and which gives prom- 
ise of becoming the theology of the Church of the future. 
Thus gifted by nature and cultured by art, he seems to have 
contemplated every system which had been propounded to the 
Church. Eliminating what was false, he retained what was 
scriptural, and combined them with matchless skill. How 
manifestly does this appear! He accepted the Augustinian 
doctrine of sin, but rejected its theory of decrees. He accepted 
the Pelagian doctrine of the will, but repudiated that teaching 
which denied the depravity of man and the necessity of spirit- 
ual aid. He accepted the spectacular theory of Abelard, and 
the substitutional theory of Anselm, relative to the work of 
Christ, but utterly rejected the rationalism of the one, and the 
commercial theory of the atonement of the other. He ac- 
cepted the perfectionist theory and deep spirituality taught by 
Pascal and the Port Royalists, but rejected their quietist teach- 
ings, which destroy all the benevolent activities of Christian 
life. He accepted the doctrine of universal redemption as 
taught by the early Arminians, but was careful to denounce the 
semi-Pelagian laxity which marked the teachings of the later 
schools of Remonstrants. He joined with the several Socinian 
schools in exalting the benevolence and mercy of God, but never 
faltered in his declaration of the perpetuity of punishment. 
Magnifying the efficiency of divine grace with the most earnest 
of Calvinists, he at the same time asserted that salvation was 
dependent on the volitions of a will that was radically free. 

Wesley as a Revivalist. 153 

It is impossible to over-estimate the influence of the theology 
of Wesley. If we accept the terms employed in modern the- 
ological science, its anthropology confronted and modified to 
an extent that has been under-estimated the sensuous philoso- 
phy of Locke, which, running its downward course, degenerated 
into the materialism of France, and all the degradation of the 
positive philosophy of Comte. By asserting the liberty of 
the moral agent, it vindicated the spiritual nature and essential 
royalty of man. Its soteriology modified and softened that 
ultra-Calvinism which overlooked the necessity of personal 
holiness by a misconception of the nature of Christ's atoning 
work and the office and work of the Spirit ; while its eschatol- 
ogy rejects the wild and dreamy vagaries of millenarianism, 
and that monstrous assumption that untainted innocency and 
desperado villainy will be congregated forever in that state 
where retribution is unknown. How grandly comprehensive, 
how profoundly scriptural, and how intensely practical is this 
system of theology ! It is pre-eminently the theology of the 
evangelist who seeks to revive and extend spiritual religion. 

It contemplates man as utterly lost, and with the knife of 
the moral anatomist reveals the deep and festering depravity 
of the human heart. Generous as Cod's own sunlight, it looks 
every man in the face and says, " Christ died for you." Vin- 
dicating the reality of supernatural communication to the spirit 
of man, it publishes the glad evangel that the invited Spirit 
will throne himself as a witness of sonship and a comforter 
divine in every willing heart. It holds out the possibilities of 
a victory over the apostate nature by asserting a sanctification 
which is entire, and a perfection in love which is not ultimate 
and final, but progressive in its development forever. Such was 
the system of religious truth with which "Wesley started on his 
mighty career of evangelistic labor. The world has never seen 
a formula which has more practically unfolded the spirit of the 
Gospel, and given it an adaptation to the average intelligence of 
man. Though scholastic in its origin, yet as he and his coadjutors 

154 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

rang it out over the land, it became a power imperial to sway 
human hearts and sweep them into the kingdom of God. And 
this theology, because of its intense loyalty to the Scriptures, 
is gathering strength with the years. It is molding the 
method of all Churches, and is the right arm of power to every 
man who aspires to lift up and save the race. Its character is 
written on every page of the history of the mightiest revival 
which the Church has ever known. 

Its Spiritual Life. 

From the theology of Wesley we come to a consideration 
of its influence over his own mind as seen in his experimental 
life. We have already referred to the rare mental endowments 
with which God had intrusted "Wesley. Not inferior were 
those qualities which conspired to build up that Christian man- 
hood which made him preeminent as a minister of God. 

Foremost among those qualities was a will-power which would 
have made him eminent in any sphere. Meteors flash and 
darken again, but planets burn steadily in their orbits. Wesley 
swung the round of his earthly orbit with unfaltering purpose 
and ever-increasing brilliance. There is an heroic grandeur in 
that constancy which carried him directly forward in the ac- 
complishment of his great life-work. With this power of will 
there was a native integrity and sympathy with the spiritual 
which is constantly evident throughout his career. Several 
agencies conspired to fit him for his great work. The first was 
a sympathy with mediaeval asceticism. The lives of Lopez, 
Lawrence, and Francois Xavier had early arrested his atten- 
tion. Accordingly, we find that the history of the O'xford 
Methodists very clearly brings out the ascetic mold in which 
the piety of Wesley was cast. The whole of their life assumed 
the form of monastic order. Their time was divided by sea- 
sons of fasting and solitude. Eestrictions were placed upon 
their social intercourse, habits of thought, and daily action. 
This period was a sort of moral gymnasium in which his spirit 

"Wesley as a Revivalist. 155 

was trained and toned, in which his conscience was educated, and 
in which his duty became the pole-star of his life. Like an- 
other Ignatius Loyola, though in the spirit of a servant rather 
than of a son, he was ready to cross seas and continents at what 
he believed to be the call of duty. Wesley never forgot the 
moral discipline and advantage of this period of his life. In- 
deed, he regretfully declares that an observance of these rules 
would have been helpful throughout his entire career. It may 
be safely doubted whether any man ever accomplished much 
for God who was not subjected to a like discipline. The lives 
of Luther, Spener, and Knox give marked indications of that 
self-abnegation which gave fiber and power to their manhood, 
and, under God, made them mighty for the accomplishment of 
his jaurposes. 

But while the ascetic principles which shaped his early re- 
ligious life induced a habit of introspection and developed a 
certain thoroughness and depth in his inner life, it must not be 
overlooked that Wesley stands forever a debtor to that Morav- 
ian type of piety which so largely influenced the entire of his 
subsequent career. 

The distinguishing attributes of Moravian piety were its 
vivid realization of spiritual truth, its demand for an inner con- 
sciousness of the divine favor wrought out by the Spirit of 
God, its joyous aggressiveness, its unquestioning faith, and its 
loyalty to the divine word. There are, doubtless, some feat- 
ures of Moravian teaching, as propounded by Zinzendorf, that 
must be questioned ; but the tone of piety is sweet and beauti- 
ful in the extreme. Its impelling power is seen in the fact 
that a 'comparatively feeble Church has lifted its banner in 
mission stations over all the earth to an extent unequaled by 
any Church of similar strength. No sooner had Wesley come 
under the experimental teachings of Moravians like Bolder 
than he beheld the ways of God more perfectly, and from the 
night when he felt bis heart strangely warmed while reading 
on the atonement in the Epistle to the Bomans, a new power 

156 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

possessed him. Fired by the enthusiasm of divine love, he 
henceforth more fully gave his entire being to evangelistic 
labors. But the full power of "Wesley's spiritual life stands 
inseparably connected with his acceptance of the doctrine of 
Christian Perfection. In his " Plain Account " of this doc- 
trine we find that from the very beginning of his spiritual life 
his mind had been divinely drawn in this direction. Thomas 
a Kempis' " Imitation of Christ " and Jeremy Taylor's " Holy 
Living " first kindled aspirations for this grace. 

Evidence of his early soul-yearnings is found in the fact that, 
when at Savannah, he penned the lines, 

" Is there a thing beneath the sun, 

That strives with thee my heart to share ? 
Ah, tear it thence, and reign alone, 
The Lord of every motion there." 

And on his return voyage he wrote : — 

" O grant that nothing in my soul 

May dwell, but thy pure love alone ! 
O may thy love possess me whole, 

My joy, my treasure, and my crown : 
Strange flames far from my heart remove ; 
My every act, worn 1 , thought, be love ! " 

If there be one master-passion which above all others ab- 
sorbed the soul of "Wesley, it was his intense admiration of the 
exquisite beauty of holiness which permeates and robes the 
character with the radiance of heaven. His ever-abiding de- 
sire was, that it should crown his own life and constitute the 
beatitude of others. As the mariner's needle points to the 
pole, so his heart turned to those who glorified this truth. 

The estimate which he set upon this experience of entire 
sanctification is shown in his repeated declarations that it con- 
stitutes the great power of the Church, and that wherever it was 
preached clearly and definitely, as a present experience, the 
work of God revived. Wherever Christians rose to its attain- 
ment, they became invested with a new power, which made 

Wesley as a Revivalist. 157 

them potential agents in the work of God ; and he does not hesi- 
tate to declare, that if this truth should become obsolete in the 
Methodist Church, its glory, as a revival Church, would forever 
pass away. Holiness unto the Lord was, he declared, the great 
depositum intrusted to Methodism, distinguishing it from every 
other section of the Church of Christ. 

In the three stages which mark the spiritual life of "Wesley 
there is a remarkable preparation for his great work as the re- 
vivalist of the eighteenth century. The ascetic period gave 
him the mastery of the human heart, and armed him with 
power to search the conscience. The attainment of the Mora- 
vian type of piety led him out in the line of immediate conver- 
sion and spiritual attestation to the heart, while the acceptance 
of Christian perfection enabled him to guide the Church into 
that consecration which would make its members collaborators 
in the work of spreading scriptural holiness throughout the 

Style of Preaching. 

But from his inner life we may pass on to notice that style 
of preaching which he employed in accomplishing his great 
work. The history of the pulpit is in a sense the history of 
the Church, reflecting, as it does, the spirit of the age. Thus 
in the apostolic times we have the age of direct statement, as 
found in Justin Martyr ; the age of allegory, which found its 
exponent in Origen ; the age of superstition, as expressed 
in the Montanists ; the age of ecclesiasticism, in Gregory the 
Great ; the age of doctrine, in the times of the Reformation ; the 
age of polemics, in the sixteenth century ; and the age of ex- 
position, which found its expression in the great productions of 
Owen and Howe. It was reserved for Wesley to inaugurate 
a new method of preaching, which, divested of scholastic forms, 
should at once command the homage of intellect and the heart 
of untutored simplicity. 

The eighteenth century has given us only two names illus- 
trious for pulpit eloquence : "Wesley and Whitefield. If one 

158 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

was the Demosthenes of the age, the other was the Seneca. 
The one was bold, impassioned, full of declamatory power 
and emotional force ; the other was calm, cultured, searching, 
clear, and powerful in appeal. While the grandeur of "White- 
field's pulpit eloquence swayed for the time, the convincing 
and heart-searching appeals of Wesley left a more permanent 
impression on the age. Stars were they both of the first mag- 
nitude ; binary stars, that revolve around each other and shed 
the refulgence of their fight on the darkness of their times; 
but while the luster of the one is dimming with the years, 
that of the other is ever increasing in the growing magnitude 
and permanence of that work which he began. It is conceded 
by the historians of Wesley, that, while his printed sermons 
indicate the theology of his preaching, they furnish but an im- 
perfect conception of that popular power which he wielded. 
Sir Walter Scott heard him in his early life, and bears testimony 
to his great versatility, employing argument and anecdote, the 
simplicity of conversational address and yet an all-pervading 
and incisive earnestness which was potent to arrest all who 
heard it. The preaching of Wesley had always for its object 
the accomplishment of definite results. Recognizing man as 
exposed to an eternal penalty on account of sin, and yet uncon- 
scious of his peril, he proclaimed the law in all its conscience- 
searching significance, and uncovered that dark immortality to 
which unsaved men were hastening with a vividness and power 
that awoke the guilty sinner, and prompted him to flee from 
the wrath to come. 

It is a complaint throughout the Churches that the spirit of 
deep conviction and thorough repentance is seldom witnessed 
as in the past. May this not arise from the want of that tre- 
mendous and searching appeal in the modern puljoit which 
marked the ministry of Wesley and his coadjutors ? To the 
truly awakened man he brought the fullness of the Gospel, of- 
fered an immediate pardon, and insisted upon the attainment of 
a witnessing Spirit, as authenticating the reality of the gift 

Wesley as a Revivalist. 159 

conferred. "With the sharpness of definition he kept ever reit- 
erating the privilege of sonship, and never ceased to urge on 
those who had received the marks of sonship the necessity of 
perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord. 

The preaching of Wesley presents a marked contrast to that 
class who decry all dogmatic teaching, and would emasculate the 
Gospel of those great distinctive truths which constitute the bones 
and sinews and fibers of our Christianity. What gave strength 
to his teaching was the perpetual presentation of doctrine in its 
practical relation to the experimental life of man. It was thus 
an educating force, and, being surcharged with that divine in- 
fluence which flowed out from his personal consecration and 
union with God, it became mightily transforming, making the 
moral wilderness to rejoice and blossom as a rose. 

Nothing more fully reveals the grand possibilities which in- 
here in man than the magnitude of those forces which belong 
to one who is called, commissioned, and anointed to proclaim 
the Gospel. We admire the power and skill of the artist who 
evokes from the instrument of music its many voices, weaving 
them into harmonies and planting them in the soul so that 
they live in the memory along the years ; but what is this to 
the achievement of the preacher who wakes the silent souls of 
thousands into melodies divine, and sends them singing through 
the great forever, waking in turn music in other hearts as they 
go to the mountains of myrrh and frankincense, where the day 
breaks and the shadows flee away ! Such was the power of 
Wesley. From his lips came words that moved the spirits of 
multitudes toward God, and from that center there has gone 
out a power which is ever accumulating with the march of 
time, working out the regeneration of mighty militant hosts on 
earth and lifting uncounted millions to the skies. 

Powee of Organization. 
With a theology such as we have described, wielded by an 
igent so consecrated, and in a manner so adapted to produce 

160 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

immediate results, we cannot wonder that over all the land the 
flame of revival was kindled to an extent such as the Church 
had never witnessed. The success which crowned the ministry 
of Wesley brought into play what must be regarded as one of 
the crowning attributes of his character — his power of organ- 
ization. Nothing so distinguishes the essential greatness of a 
man, and gives to him such historic pre-eminence, as the power 
to organize. The names that stand peerless in government, in 
war, and in the annals of the Church, were, perhaps, more dis- 
tinguished in this particular than in any other. This talent for 
government "Wesley possessed in an extraordinary degree. He 
had, says Macaulay, the genius of a Richelieu in directing and 
controlling men. The first outcome of this power was seen in 
his ability to read the character of men, and select his agents 
to co-operate with him in his work. It was no ordinary soul 
that could choose his agents from every class, fling over them 
the spell of his inspiration, and hold them in line with a pre- 
cision that well-nigh approached the rigidity of military disci- 
pline. Yet this was the sublime spectacle which was witnessed 
in the last century. Men throughout the isles and over the 
seas responded to his call, and loyally toiled at his bidding for 
the evangelization of the world. 

The genius of Wesley for organization was further seen in 
the adjustment to the nature of man of that economy which 
he has given to the Church. The Protestant Church had hith- 
erto resolved itself into two historic forms, the elaborate ritual- 
ism of Episcopacy, and the rigid baldness of Presbyterianism ; 
in the one, the worship assumed a sensuous form, appealing to 
the senses ; in the other, there was a certain cold and unat- 
tractive formalism. The quick intelligence of Wesley at once 
grasped the situation ; he recognized the power of social influ- 
ence, and, as a first step, established those class-meetings and 
modern agapoe, or love-feasts, which have developed the spirit 
of testimony, and generated a warmth of Christian affection 
that largely constitutes the distinguishing bond of Methodism. 

Wesley as a Revivalist. 161 

With this provision for Christian fellowship he organized a 
system of accurate supervision, by the appointment of an order 
of sub-pastors, or leaders, whose mission it should be to watch 
over the individuals intrusted to their care to an extent beyond 
the power of the ordained pastorate. The wisdom of this ap- 
pointment all must acknowledge who are familiar with the 
tendencies of human nature to recede from that position into 
which they have been brought in times of religious revival, and 
to renounce their allegiance to God. An eminent prelate has 
well said, that nothing in Methodism more evinces the far-seeing 
sagacity of Wesley than his expedient to supply to his follow- 
ers at once the opportunities for fellowship with the minutest 
oversight of individual interests. 

It may well be doubted whether the social economy of Meth- 
odism could have been sustained without those wondrous spirit- 
ual songs which form the liturgy of the Methodist Church. 
The hymns of the Wesleys are undeniably the finest exponents 
of every phase of inner life that uninspired genius has ever 
given to enrich the psalmody of the Church. They strike every 
note in the possible of human experience from despairing pen- 
itence up to ecstatic assurance, from tremulous doubt to an ex- 
ultant faith that smiles serenely amid the wreck of earthly 
hopes, and sings its jubilate in anticipation of the coming in- 
heritance. The hymnS of the Wesleys have shaped the exper- 
imental life of the Church, they have given it an impress of 
joy, and for the last century have made it the singing Church 
of Christendom, to witness before the world that Christianity 
is not to walk the ages robed in mourning, but with the light 
of heaven sparkling in her eye. Clad in garments of praise, 
with thanksgiving and the voice of melody, she is to testify that 
" happy is that people that is in such a case ; yea, happy is that 
people whose God is the Lord." 

No statement of Wesley's power to organize would be com- 
plete without marking the comprehensiveness of his aims, which 
gave him an elevation that seemed to overlook the ages, and 

162 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

anticipate the demands of an advancing civilization. Long be- 
fore Methodism had built a school or college Wesley had pro- 
vided a series of elementary books to aid his untutored converts 
in the attainment of an adequate education. Recognizing the 
forces that slumber in cheap literature, he let loose these forces 
in tracts, pamphlets, and magazines, ere yet men had dreamed 
of organizing tract societies. He thundered with strong invec- 
tive against the liquor traffic a hundred years prior to the birth 
of prohibition, and sought to educate his followers to just con- 
ceptions of the political issues of their times. "Whatever would 
give strength, endurance, and beauty to the Church ; whatever 
would fit its members in the highest and noblest sense to make 
the best of both worlds, this great master-builder pressed into 
service and consecrated to God. Every type of Methodism 
over all the earth is at the present instinct with the organizing 
genius of Wesley. This has given to it permanence and power, 
and must project its influence along the line of its entire 

Manifold are the lessons which the history of John Wesley 
as a revivalist suggests. Let none suppose that the highest 
culture unfits for the revival work of the Church. The finest 
scholarship may be associated with the most enthusiastic zeal 
for the salvation of men. 

Let none suppose that ministerial power must decline when 
the freshness and buoyancy of early manhood depart. With 
advancing years the influence and usefulness of Wesley's min- 
istry increased, and the splendor of its even-tide far surpassed 
the glory of its dawn. 

Whoever aspires to fill the horizon of this life with highest 
benediction to his race, and gather glory to himself that shall 
be enduring as the Eternal, let him emulate the spirit of Wes- 
ley and the grandeur of his consecration. 

Sun of the morning, that openest the gates of the day, and 
comes blushing o'er the land and the sea, why marchest thou 
to thy throne in the heavens, filling the firmament with splen- 

Wesley as a Revivalist. 163 

dor ? Why, but to symbolize the coming glory of the spirit- 
ually wise. " They that be wise shall shine as the firmament." 
Star of the midnight hour, that has shone on patriarch and 
prophet, waking the wonder and admiration of ages and gen- 
erations, why thy ceaseless burning? Why, but to show the 
abiding brilliance of the soul-winner. " They that turn many 
to righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever and ever." 


FOUNDER ! How may this word, so human, be applied to 
any thing so divine as the Church of God ? 

No man nor set of men can create a Christian Church. Its 
underlying principles and its sacraments are of God. Its ends, 
its sanctions, its authority and its power, are all divine. God 
made the Church ; it is his. 

But God made men also, and uses them as ministers in his 
Church, and when there is need, as reformers. This divine 
institution has a providential relation to times and places. Its 
truths change not, but they may be rescued from oblivion or 
perversion. Its ordained agencies may be conformed to new 
conditions of operation. This adaptation is committed under 
Providence to men — to men who have "understanding of the 
times to know what Israel ought -to do." These chosen 
instruments seldom discern the full force of their measures. 
They are led by a way they know not ; " they build wiser 
than they know." The providential man is prepared and also 
prepared for. The occasion comes ; he responds to its de- 
mands and does more than he is aware of. History magnifies 
him and posterity thinks .more of him than did his own gen- 

Without irreverence or derogating from the honor of the 
Head of the Church this providential man may be called a 
founder. Such instruments has God raised up all along the 
ages. They make eras in ecclesiastical history. 

Martin Luther was a founder. See the Lutheran Church, 
whose strength in Europe can hardly be conceived of from 
what we see of it in America. Like all providential work, the 
moral forces put in operation overflowed the limits of the 

Wesley the Founder oe Methodism. 165 

Church founded by him. The influence of Luther is not to be 
measured by Lutheranism. 

Other branches of the Church, though the nomenclature 
may not point to them, can be traced to founders. Knox and 
his collaborators formulated the polity and creed of the Pres- 
byterians ; Robinson, of the Congregationalists, of whom the 
Puritans of New England came ; Zinzendorf and his zealous 
company, of the Moravians. 

On account of its relations to the State the Church of En- 
gland may be traced to coordinate founders, Henry VIII. repre- 
senting the secular and Cranmer the spiritual. Without these 
two men, it might be said the Church of England would not 
have been at all, or it would have been different from what it 
is. To an Anglican or American high Churchman who, in 
ignorance of history, should taunt me because John Wesley was 
the founder of Methodism, my answer would be : Considering 
John Wesley and Henry Tudor as providential instruments in 
founding Churches, I prefer John to Henry. 

Now and then a great thinker arises who is not an organizer. 
He develops and defines a system of doctrine negatively, by 
eliminating and rejecting certain accepted opinions ; positively, 
by bringing forward into clearer light and stronger position 
certain other opinions logically related. But there is not 
formed, as there may not be needed, any ecclesiastical organism 
for embodying and promoting this system. Such a man is 
not the founder of a Church, but of a school of thought in the 
Church. Of this kind were Augustine, Calvin, Arminius, Ed- 
wards, Hopkins, and Newman. 

Even the four Gospels bear the individual impress of their 
inspired authors. The style of the man is seen and felt in the 
deliverances of the apostle. So we shall see in their work 
something of the character of the men who are instrumental in 
shaping the outward form of a Church, and by whose labors 
its membership is built up. This admission of the humam, 
element and influence is consistent with the divine origin and 

166 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

authority of the Church. Its truths abide, its principles change 
not, because they are of God. But the providential adaptation 
by which they are brought to bear on the world, in accordance 
with providential circumstances, these are of human devising. 
Bible doctrines cannot be increased. or diminished; but they 
may be presented, and systematically arranged, more or less 
clearly and consistently. Be not startled, then, or offended at 
the use of this word founder. Those who most object to it, 
as applied to their branch of the Church, furnish in their 
history the strongest examples of its presence and power. 
Laud founded high Churchism ; Pusey, the later and equally- 
marked Tractarian school in the Church of England. To these 
systems they stand related as father and child. The Protest- 
ant Episcopal Church in the United States, as founded by 
Bishop White, underwent a transformation by Iiobart and 
those of his following, even while books and standards remained 
the same. 

One may trace the hand of Hall, of Carson, of Spurgeon, 
of Broadus among the Baptists. Passing through the Annual 
Conferences governed by the same book of Discipline, one may 
discern the types of influential men — dead or living — impressed 
upon them. The Conferences are marked in their individuality 
from this source in spite of connectionalism. Strong men — 
strongly willing and thinking and acting — must be seen in 
whatever they touch ; they cannot help it. God makes them 
and has use for them. We may not glory in them, but we 
may magnify the grace of God in them. 

We accept the phrase "Methodism and its founders." 
These founders originated no new principles, but continued 
and emphasized old ones ; they discovered no new truths, but 
rescued and stressed old ones that had gone out of fashion; 
they created no new moral forces, but^ following providential 
openings, they took advantage of those that had been unused, 
or misused, or disused. 

In the second quarter of the last century appeared John 

Wesley the Foundee of Methodism. 167 

"Wesley and Charles Wesley and George Whitefield and John 
Fletcher, with a band of men whose hearts God had touched. 
They were the founders of Methodism, which has come to be 
accepted as the religious movement of the eighteenth century. 
A writer in the North American Review, (January, 1876,) 
presenting the religious history of the United States for the 
one hundred years then closing, says : " The rise of this great 
and influential body must be viewed as the most signal re- 
ligious fact which the past century presents." 

The four names given show a remarkable combination. 
Fletcher was the dialectician ; not loving controversy, but 
doing it sweetly and sharply and wonderfully well, and forging 
weapons for the defense of the Methodist doctrines that have 
won many a victory in humbler hands. Whitefield was the 
orator; he arrested and conciliated public attention, gathered 
crowds that no roof could shelter, and took to field-preaching, 
in which his example was followed, for reaching the people. 
Charles Wesley furnished songs, and put the Methodist expe- 
rience and precepts into meter. He was the poet. Of these 
several gifts John Wesley had a large share. He was all these 
and more. He was the organizer, the spiritual governor. He 
was the founder. 


THE term Methodism was, some hundred years since, a watch- 
word of contempt for a body of fanatics supposed to hold 
some new religious doctrines, to profess some strange experi- 
ences, and to arrogate to themselves a peculiar commission from 
Heaven. To many it is a watch-word of reproach still. But it 
has, nevertheless, rooted itself firmly in the nomenclature of 
the Christian Church. Evangelical Christendom generally 
agrees with those who bear it to accept the term as a human 
designation of a system of thought and action which it has 
pleased the Head of the Church to take into his plans for 
the spread of his kingdom in these later days. Its history has 
produced a very general conviction that the Holy Spirit, the 
Lord and Giver of life ecclesiastical, has added this to the 
corporate bodies of our common Christianity. Meanwhile, not 
solicitous about the judgments of men, it is commending itself 
to God by doing faithfully the work appointed for it in the 
world. Its sound — or rather, the sound of the Gospel by its 
lips— has gone out into all the earth. It is slowly diffusing its 
leaven through almost every form of corrupt Christianity ; it is 
silently impressing its influence, acknowledged or unacknowl- 
edged, upon the uncorrupt Churches of Christendom ; while, 
as an independent and self-contained organization, it is erecting 
its firm superstructure in many lands. 

This last fact implies that the system has its varieties of form. 
Methodism is a genus of many species. The central term has 
gathered round it various adjectives or predicates which express 
more or less important differences. But the term itself remains 
a bond of union among all these ; a bond which will be, as it has 
been hitherto, permanent and indestructible, if the type of doc- 
trine of which it is the symbol shall be maintained in its integ- 

Methodist Doctrine. 1G9 

rity. For, though Methodism began as a life, that life was 
quickened and nourished by its teaching ; its teaching has sus- 
tained it in vigor ; and to its teaching is mainly committed its 
destiny in the future. The object of the following pages will 
be to indicate briefly, but sharply, that type of doctrine. It 
must be premised, however, that there will be no systematic 
exhibition of its tenets illustrated by definitions, quotations, 
and historical developments generally. The scope assigned to 
this paper in the programme of the present volume allows only 
of a few general remarks. 

The subject takes us back to the beginning of the great move- 
ment. There are two errors which we have at once to con- 
front : that of assigning a doctrinal origin to the system, and 
that of making its origin entirely independent of doctrine. 

The founders of Methodism — sit venia verbo — did not, like 
the Reformers of the sixteenth century, find themselves face to 
face with a Christianity penetrated through and through by 
error. They accepted the doctrinal standards of the English 
Church ; and the subscription both of their hands and of their 
hearts they never revoked. What is more, they adhered to the 
emphatic interpretation of these standards as contained in litur- 
gical and other formularies. Nothing was further from their 
thought than to amend either the one or the other in the dog- 
matic sense. Though they clearly perceived that certain truths 
and certain aspects of truth had been kept too much in the 
background, and therefore gave them special prominence, they 
never erected these revived doctrines into a new confession. 
They did not isolate the truths they so vehemently preached ; 
but preached them as necessary to the integrity of the Chris- 
tian faith. The strength of their incessant contention was this, 
that men had ceased to see and feel what they nevertheless pro- 
fessed to believe. It was a widespread delusion concerning the 
Revival in the last century, and it is not quite exploded in this 
century, that its promoters pretended to be the recipients and 
organs of a new dispensation : modern Montanists, as it were, 

170 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

deeming themselves the special instruments .of the Holy Ghost, 
charged to revive apostolic doctrines and usages which had been 
lost through intervening ages. Neither earlier nor later Meth- 
odism has ever constructed a creed or confession of faith. It 
never believed that any cardinal doctrine has been lost ; still 
less, that its own commission was to restore such forgotten 
tenets. Its modest and simple revivals of early practice are 
such as Christian communities in all ages have felt it their priv- 
ilege to attempt ; but these have never touched the hem of the 
garment of Christian primitive truth. To sum up in one word : 
Methodism, as the aggregate unity of many bodies of Christian 
people, is not based upon a confession, essentially and at all 
points peculiar to itself, which all who adhere to its organization 
must hold. 

On the other hand, it is no less an error to disregard the 
theological character which was stamped from the very begin- 
ning on this branch of the great Revival. Never was there a 
work wrought by the Holy Ghost in the Christian Church 
which was not the result of the enforcement of Christian truth ; 
and never was such a work permanent which did not lay the 
foundations of its durability in more or less systematized doc- 
trine. Now it was one of the peculiarities of Methodism that 
it threw around all its organization, and every department 
of it, a doctrinal defense. The discourses which produced so 
wonderful an effect in every corner of England were, as deliv- 
ered, and are now, as preserved, models of*theological precision. 
There is not one of them which does not pay the utmost hom- 
age to dogmatic truth ; and it is a fact of profound importance 
in the history of this community, that the very sermons which, 
under God, gave the movement its life, still form the standard 
of its theological profession. No more remarkable tribute to 
the connection between ecclesiastical life and ecclesiastical doc- 
trine can be found in the history of Christendom. It is cus- 
tomary to ascribe the stability of the new economy to the won- 
derful organizing genius of its founder ; it may be questioned 

Methodist Doctrine. 171 

whether his zeal for solid dogma has not a right to be included. 
Certain it is, that early Methodism had a sound theological train- 
ing ; theology preached in its discourses, sang in its hymns, 
shaped its terms of communion, and presided in the discussions 
of its conferences. Hence its stability in comparison of other 
results of the general awakening. The mystical Pietists of 
Germany, quickened by the same breath, threw off, to a great 
extent, the fetters of dogmatic creed ; they retired from the 
external Church, disowned its formularies, gathered themselves 
within a garden doubly inclosed, cultivated the most spiritual and 
unworldly personal godliness, but made no provision for perma- 
nence and for posterity. Methodism, on the other hand, while 
steadily aiming at the perfection of the interior life kept a vigi- 
lant eye on the construction of its peculiar type of theology. 
That was always in steady progress. It had not reached its 
consummation when the old Societies of the eighteenth cent- 
ury were consolidated into the Church of the nineteenth. But 
all the elements were there : some of them, indeed, indeter- 
minate and confused ; some of them involving troublesome in- 
consistencies ; others of them giving latitude for abiding differ- 
ences of opinion ; but on the whole supplying the materials of 
what may now be called a set type of confessional theology. 

For that type no name already current can be found ; in de- 
fault of any other, it must be called the Methodist type. But 
that term is no sooner written than it demands protection. It may 
seem at once to suggest the idea of an eclectic system of opin- 
ion. But, apart from the discredit into which this word eclectic 
has fallen, whether in the philosophical or in the theological 
domain, it is not applicable here. The staple and substance of 
Methodist theology is essentially that of the entire Scripture 
as interpreted by the catholic evangelical tradition of the 
Christian Church. It holds the three Creeds, the only confes- 
sions of the Faith which ever professed to utter the unanimous 
voice of the body of Christ on earth ; and, so far as these three 
Creeds were ever accepted by universal Christendom, it accepts 

172 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

them, with, only such reservations as do not affect doctrine. 
Among the later confessions — the badges of a divided Christen- 
dom — it holds the Articles of the Church from which it sprang : 
holds them, that is, in their purely doctrinal statements. The 
eclectic hand has done no more than select for prominence such 
views of truth as have been neglected ; never has it culled 
from this or that Formulary any spoil to make its own. It has 
no more borrowed from the Remonstrant Arminians than it 
has borrowed from the Protestant Lutherans. It agrees with 
both these so far as they express the faith of the New Testa- 
ment ; but no further. It has had, indeed, in past times a con- 
ventional connection with the name Arminian ; but its Armin- 
ianism is simply the mind of the Catholic Church down to the 
time of Augustine ; and with the historical Arminianism that 
degenerated in Holland it has no affinity. It might be said, 
with equal propriety or want of propriety, that it has learned 
some of its lessons from Calvinism. Certainly it has many- 
secret and blessed relations with that system ; not with its hard, 
logical, deductive semi-fatalism, over which Absolute Sover- 
eignty reigns with such awful despotism, but with its deep ap- 
preciation of union with Christ, and of the Christian privileges 
bound up with that high principle. 

But to return. The simple fact is, that any truly catholic 
confession of faith must seem to be eclectic : for there are 
no bodies of professed Christians, even to the outskirts of 
Christendom, which do not hold some portions of the truth ; 
while it may be said that many of them hold some partic- 
ular truth with a sharper and more consistent definition of 
it than others. But a really catholic system must embrace 
all these minor peculiarities ; and in proportion as it does so, 
it will seem to have borrowed them. In this sense, the de- 
fenders of Methodist theology admit that it is eclectic. They 
claim to hold all essential truth ; to omit no articles but those 
which they consider erroneous; and to disparage none but 
those which they deem unessential. This, of course, is a high 

Methodist Docteine. 173 

pretension, but it is not a vainglorious one ; for surely it is tlie 
prerogative of every Christian community to glory in holding 
"the faith once delivered to the saints." And as it is with 
the doctrines, so it is with the spirit, of Methodist teaching. 
In this also it is, after a fashion, eclectic, as it sympathizes with 
those who make it their boast that they know no other theology 
than the biblical, and is as biblical as they. It also agrees with 
those who think that divinity is a systematic science, to be 
grounded and organized as such ; while with almost all its heart 
it joins the company of Mystics, whose supreme theologian is 
the interior Teacher, and who find all truth in the experimental 
vision and knowledge of God in Christ. 

We have to say a few words upon certain peculiarities in the 
doctrinal position of Methodism. But it is a pleasant preface 
to dwell for a moment on the broad expanse of catholic evan- 
gelical truth, concerning which it has no peculiarities, or no pe- 
culiarities that affect Christian doctrine. To begin where all 
things have their beginning, with the being, triune essence,, and 
attributes of God ; his relation to the universe as its Creator 
and providential Governor ; his revelation of himself in nature : 
this supreme truth it holds against all atheism, antitheism, 
pantheism, and materialism. The unity of mankind, created in 
the image of God ; fallen into guilt and depravity in Adam ; re- 
stored through the intervention of the Son of God, who offered 
a vicarious atonement for the whole race, and is now carrying 
on the holy warfare for man, and in man, and with man, against 
the personal devil and his kingdom of darkness : this it holds 
against all who deny the incaxnation of the divine Son, one 
Person in two natures forever. The divinity and economical 
offices of the Eternal Spirit of the Father and the Son, the 
source of all good in man ; the inspirer of all holy Scripture ; 
the administrator of a finished redemption to sinful men con- 
vinced by his agency on their minds, justified through faith in 
the atonement which he reveals to the heart, and sanctified to 
the uttermost by his energy within the soul, operating through 

174 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

the means of grace established in the Chnrch over which he 
presides, and revealing its power in all good works done in 
the imitation of Christ : all this it holds against the Pelagian, 
Antinomian, and Rationalist dishonor to the Holy Ghost. 
The solemnities of death, resurrection, and eternal judgment, 
conducted by the returning Christ, and issuing in the everlast- 
ing severance between good and evil, the evil being banished 
from God's presence forever, and the good blessed eternally 
with the beatific vision : all this, too, it holds with fear and 
trembling, but with assured confidence that the Judge will vin- 
dicate his righteousness forever. In this general outline we 
have all the 'elements of the apostles' doctrine and the truth of 
God. And with regard to these substantial and eternal verities, 
the system of doctrine we now consider is one with all com- 
munions that may be regarded as holding the Head. 

But while it is true that these everlasting verities can under- 
go no change, they may all of them undergo certain modifica,- 
tions of statement in the gradual development of confessional 
theology. It is needless to ask why the Spirit of truth has 
permitted this ; we have only to accept the fact that this has 
been his will. In the earliest ages of the Church he overruled 
the decisions of synods and councils for the defense and clearer 
manifestation of Christian doctrine. In later times we see, with 
equal and even more distinctness, the operation of the same 
law. He has administered the affairs of the kingdom of Christ 
on the principle of raising up distinct societies or denomina- 
tions rivaling and emulating each other, rallying round their 
respective expositions of the common faith, and turning their 
distinct and distinctive charisms to the profit of the universal 
cause. For these diversities of teaching he is to some extent 
responsible, but not for their mutual contentions ; and he knows 
how to educe, through the process of ages, the perfect truth 
from our discordant confessions. "We must not ask if he will 
ever reduce them all to harmony ; or whether, which is more 
probable, the Lord's personal coming shall supersede them all. 

Methodist Doctrine. IT 5 

Our business is to guard well the deposit committed to us in 
our several communions ; differing charitably where we differ ; 
seeking to give and receive all the light we can ; and waiting 
for the coming day, which will be a day of general revelation. 

Meanwhile, let us note a few of those peculiar aspects of 
the several doctrines mentioned above which Methodism hum- 
bly and reverently, but confidently, regards as part of its ap- 
pointed testimony. The attempt to sketch these is one of great 
difficulty, and of all the greater difficulty because of the brevity 
which is necessary. It would not be a hopeless task to exhibit 
the salient points of this type of doctrine at length, and with 
abundant use of the ample material which a century has pro- 
vided. Such a task must one day be accomplished ; but it is 
probably reserved for the next generation. It will have to lo- 
cate Methodist doctrine generally in its true place in confes- 
sional theology ; to adjust it with the other great formularies 
of. Christendom ; to study its own development from point to 
point ; to reconcile it on some subjects with itself, and to show 
how, amid some vacillations in certain doctrines, it has, never- 
theless, steadily converged to one issue, even as it regards those 
doctrines themselves ; to mark the deviations of which some 
bodies bearing the generic name have been guilty, or seem likely 
to be so ; to aim at some such clear accentuation of contested 
points as shall make their common teaching more emphatically 
one ; and, finally, what is perhaps most important of all, to in- 
dicate the specific effect which its specific doctrines have had 
upon the whole constitution, agency, work, and successes of the 
general system called Methodism. But all this is in the future. 
"What the present paper aims at, is only to note a few peculiar- 
ities, which the reader must expand for himself. And it may 
be as well to add, that the writer of it is only expressing his 
own conviction. He has, of course, an objective standard be- 
fore him in a variety of standards. But the subjective stand- 
ard must needs be applied even to them, and accordingly he 
must be responsible for his own judgments. 

176 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

The doctrine of the most Holy Trinity might seem to be one 
in which there is no room for variety of sentiment among those 
who hold it : that is, the great bulk of the Christian world. 
But that doctrine is deeply affected both in itself and in its re- 
lation to the universe generally, and the economy of redemp- 
tion in particular, by the view taken of the eternal Sonship of 
the second Person. Those who would efface the interior dis- 
tinctions of generation and procession in the Godhead sur- 
render much for which the earliest champions of orthodoxy 
fought. They take away from the intercommunion of the 
divine Persons its most impressive and affecting character ; and 
they go far toward robbing us of the sacred mystery which 
unites the Son's exinanition in heaven with his humiliation as 
incarnate on earth. Now, we lay claim to no peculiar fidelity 
here, nor would this subject be mentioned, were it not that 
Methodism has had the high honor of vindicating the eternal 
Sonship in a very marked manner. It has produced some of 
the ablest defenses of this truth known in modern times ; de- 
fenses which have shown how thoroughly it is interwoven with 
the fabric of Scripture, how vital it is to the doctrine of the 
incarnation, and how it may be protected from any complicity 
with subordinational Arianism. The transition from this to 
the person of Christ in the unity of his two natures is obvious. 
And here two remarks only need be made : first, that our doc- 
trine—we may say henceforward our doctrine — is distinguished 
by its careful abstinence from speculation as to the nature of 
the Eedeemer's self-emptying, simply holding fast the immu- 
table truth that the Divine Son of God could not surrender the 
essence of his divinity ; and, secondly, that in the unity of his 
Person he was not only sinless but also incapable of sin. Any 
one who watches the tendencies of modern theology, tenden- 
cies which betray themselves in almost all communities, and 
watches them with an intelligent appreciation of the importance 
of the issues involved, will acknowledge that this first note of 
honest glorying is not unjustified. 

Methodist Doctrine. 177 

Turning to the mediatorial work which the Son became 
incarnate to accomplish, we have to note that the Methodist 
doctrine lays a special emphasis on its universal relation to the 
race of man, and deduces the consequences with a precision 
in some respects peculiar to itself. 

For instance, it sees in this the true explanation of the vica- 
rious or substitutionary idea, which is essential to sound evan- 
gelical theology, but is very differently held by different 
schools. There are two extremes that it seeks to avoid by 
blending the truths perverted by opposite parties. The vague 
generality of the old Arminian and Grotian theory, which 
makes the atonement only a rectoral expedient of the righteous 
God, who sets forth his suffering Son before the universe as 
the proof that law has been vindicated before grace begins to 
receive transgressors, was very current in England when Meth- 
odism arose. This was and still is confronted by the vigorous 
doctrine of substitution, which represents Christ to have taken 
at all points the very place of his elect, actually for them and 
only them, satisfying the dreadful penalty and holy require- 
ments of the law. Throughout the whole current of Methodist 
theology there runs a mediating strain, which, however, it would 
take many pages to illustrate. It accepts the Arminian view 
that the holiness of God is protected by the atonement ; but it 
insists on bringing in here the vicarious idea. The sin of Adam 
was expiated as representing the sin of the race as such, or of 
human nature, or of mankind : a realistic conception which 
was not borrowed from philosophic realism, and which no 
nominalism can ever really dislodge from, the New Testament. 
" Christ gave himself as the mediator of God and men, a ran- 
som for all before any existed ; and this oblation before the 
foundation of the world was to be testified in due time, that 
individual sinners might know themselves to be members of a 
race vicariously saved as such." This free paraphrase of St. 
Paul's last testimony does not overstrain its teaching, that the 
virtue of the great reconciliation abolished the sentence of 

178 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

death, in all its meaning, as resting upon the posterity of 
Adam. In this sense it was absolutely vicarious : the transac- 
tion in the mind and purpose of the most Holy Trinity did not 
take our presence or concurrence, only our sin, into account. 
Therefore the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world 
was, as it respects the race of Adam, an absolutely vicarious 
sacrifice. The reconciliation of God to the world — the atone- 
ment proper — must be carried up to the awful sanctuary of the 
Divine Trinitarian essence. When the atonement is translated 
into time, set forth upon the cross, and administered by the 
Spirit, the simple and purely vicarious idea is modified. Then 
come in the two other theories, which, as resting upon the 
background of the former, have great value ; but, as displacing 
that, are utterly misleading. God, as the righteous protector 
of his law, declares his justice while he justifies the believer, 
and will not justify him save as he makes Christ's death his 
own through a faith which cries, " I am crucified with Christ." 
And God, as the Father of infinite love, commends his love in 
the sacrificial gift of his Son, not as if that alone should move 
us to lay down our opposition to his grace, but that the Spirit, 
teaching us how much it cost the Father to be reconciled to 
the world, might shed abroad that love in our individual hearts, 
and awaken in us the love that will imitate the Saviour's sacri- 
fice and enter into the fellowship of his death to sin. "With 
these modifications, as it respects the individual believer, does 
Methodism hold fast the doctrine of a universal vicarious satis- 
faction for the race. But marked prominence must be given 
to the consistency with which the universal benefit of the 
atonement has been carried out in its relation to original sin 
and the estate of the unregenerate world before God. Meth- 
odism not only holds that the condemnation of the original sin 
has been reversed ; it also holds that the Holy Spirit, the source 
of all good, is given back to mankind in his preliminary influ- 
ences as the Spirit of the coming Christ, the Desired of the 
nations. The general truth that Christ is the Light of the 

Methodist Doctrine. 179 

world, enlightening every man that cometh into it — the spring 
of benefits to man that go out to the utmost circumference of 
his race — is held by our theology in common with many other 
schools. But we have our shades of peculiarity here ; some 
rescuing the doctrine from unreality, and some protecting it 
from latitudmarian perversion. With regard to the former, 
Methodism affirms the restoration of the Spirit to have been 
an actual fruit of redemption, mitigating from the very begin- 
ning the consequences of original sin, whether as the curse of 
the law or as the transmission of a corrupt bias. It will not 
tolerate the irreverent distinction between common grace and 
special grace ; believing that all grace was purchased at the cost 
of Christ's most precious blood, and is intended to lead to sal- 
vation. It therefore looks out upon the court of the Gentiles 
with catholic eyes : not regarding it as the sphere of absolute 
darkness and insensibility and death until the Spirit, adminis- 
tering the electing counsel, kindles here and there the spark of 
life to go out no more forever. It believes in a preparatory 
grace reigning in all the world ; in a prevenient grace antici- 
pating the gospel in every heart ; and in both as a most precious 
free gift to mankind, answering in some sense to the dire gift 
of original sin. "With regard to the latter, that is, the latitud- 
inarian perversion, the Methodist doctrine lays great stress on 
the insufficiency of this preliminary grace. It does not allow, 
with some, that Christ is the seed of light and life in every 
man that cometh into the world, and in this sense the root and 
center of all human nature. He was, indeed, and is, the desire 
of the nations to whom he was not revealed ; but not a desire 
attained and fulfilled until he was manifested in the flesh. 
How he will deal with the multitudes of the human race who 
have had only this subordinate and comparatively faint attrac- 
tion — how and in what ways unknown to us he has responded 
to it or will respond to it — are questions which must be left to 
the " Lord of the dead and the living," the Shepherd of those 
" other sheep." He is r and will ever be, "Jesus Christ the 

180 The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 

righteous." So with regard to the secret influence that pre- 
pares for him in every heart ; which is stimulated by the spirit 
of conviction into vehement penitent desire. This preparation 
of preliminary grace develops into much vigorous life ; but we 
hold it not to be regenerate life until the Son is formed in the 
heart. Until then, let the latitudinarians say what they will, 
the word of Scripture holds its truth : " If any man be in 
Christ he is a new creature ; " a word spoken, be it remem- 
bered, in connection with the apostle's assertion of the general 
reconciliation of God to the world. 

The blessings of the Christian covenant, administered and im- 
parted by the Holy Ghost, which constitute the state of grace, 
are so simply set forth in the New Testament that there is not 
much room for difference of opinion among those whose views 
of the atonement are sound. We hold them, in common with 
all who hold the Head, to be one great privilege flowing from 
union with Christ, in whom we are complete; and that this 
great privilege of acceptance is administered both externally 
and internally. But, as we are dwelling on shades of differ- 
ence, we may observe that the Methodist theology lays more 
stress than most others upon the fact that in every department 
of the common blessing there is both an external and an 
internal administration. Every one of them bears at once a 
forensic, or imputative, or declaratory character ; while every 
one of them bears also a moral, or internal, or inwrought 
meaning. If there is a forensic justification, declaring in the 
mediatorial court where law reigns unto righteousness, and the 
atonement is a satisfaction to justice ; there is also a principle 
of obedience implanted, through which the righteousness of the 
law is to be fulfilled. These are inseparable in time and eter- 
nity: none but those who have a finished righteousness im- 
parted will be hereafter pronounced righteous for Christ's 
sake; and when righteousness is so complete as to bear the 
scrutiny of Heaven, it will need to be sheltered from the unf or- 
getting law by an imputed righteousness and an eternal pardon. 

Methodist Doctrine. 181 

Remembering this always, Methodism holds very light the 
Romanizing disparagement of justification by faith on the one 
hand, and the Calvinistic disparagement of justification by 
works on the other. The righteous God is one, and there is 
but one righteousness : that which man's guilt needs, Christ has 
provided in his atonement ; that which God's holiness demands, 
the Holy Spirit of Christ will accomplish. The same may be 
said with regard to the believer's relation to the Father through 
his union with the incarnate Son. It has its external and declar- 
atory character as an investiture with certain specific privileges, 
all of which are summed up in the word " adoption ; " but 
these would have no meaning — they would, in fact, be an 
unreality — unless there was inwardly imparted also the gift of 
regenerate life, which is the Son of God formed in the soul by 
the Holy Ghost. Similarly, with regard to the blessing of sanc- 
tification, which carries us into the temple of God, as justifica- 
tion carries us into the mediatorial law court, and regeneration 
into the Father's house. Perhaps our Methodist theology has 
not been so definite as to the external and internal character 
of this third order of evangelical privilege. The term " sancti- 
fication " has been generally referred to the interior operations 
of grace, by a conventional consent that is easily explained. 
But really, though somewhat informally, this distinction has 
been observed. There is the consecration to God on the altar, 
which corresponds to justification at the bar: the sprinkled 
soul, with all that it has and is, is accepted of God, is dedicated 
to him in act inspired by the Holy Ghost, and is sanctified to 
his service. It is regarded as set apart from sin and the world, 
though as yet the severance may not be, what it will be, abso- 
lute and complete. It is counted as entire sanctification, though 
the sanctification. may not be entire. Around these three cen- 
ters of blessing — one in Christ Jesus — revolve, according to this 
theology, as according to the ISTew Testament, all the privileges 
of the new covenant. The soul is set right with the law, is 
received as a son, and is sanctified in the temple. In the first, 

182 The Wesley Memorial "Volume. 

Jesus is the advocate and his atonement a satisfaction ; in the 
second, he is the first-born among many brethren, and his atone- 
ment is the reconciliation ; in the third, he is the high-priest, 
and his atonement is a sacrifice for sins. In the court of law 
the Holy Spirit is the convincer of sin to the transgressor, 
assuring him of pardon ; in the home he is the Spirit of adop- 
tion to the prodigal, witnessing, together with his regenerate 
spirit, that he is a child of God ; and he is in the temple the 
silent, indwelling seal of consecration. 

But this leads to the doctrine of the Witness of the Spirit, 
which has been sometimes regarded as a Methodist peculiarity. 
By many it is set down as a specimen of what may be called 
an inductive theology ; that is, as a formula for certain experi- 
ences enjoyed by the early converts of the system. Now, there 
can be no question that there is some truth in this. The ex- 
periences of multitudes who felt suddenly and most assuredly 
delivered from the sense of condemnation, enabled to pray to 
God as a reconciled father, and conscious of their sanctification 
to his service, may be said to have anticipated the confirmation 
of the word of God. They first read in their own hearts what 
they afterward read in their Bibles. For that the induction of 
experience coincides in this with biblical induction is most 
certain. That it is the privilege of those who are new creatures 
in Christ Jesus, and have passed from death unto life, to know 
the things that are freely given them of God, cannot be denied 
by any who, with unprejudiced eyes, read the New Testament. 
In fact, the general principle is admitted in all communions, 
the differences among them having reference either to certain 
restrictions in the evidence itself, or to the medium through 
which it is imparted. A large portion of Christendom unite 
this witness with sacramental means and ordinances ; making 
personal assurance of salvation dependent on priestly absolu- 
tion, either with or without a sacrament devised for the pur- 
pose. Another, and almost equally large body of Christian 
teachers, make this high privilege a special blessing vouch- 

Methodist Doctrine. 183 

safed to God's elect as the fruit or reward of long discipline 
and the divine seal upon earnest perseverance ; but, when im- 
parted, this assurance includes the future as well as the past, 
and is the knowledge of an irreversible decree of acceptance 
which nothing can avail to undermine however much it may be 
occasionally clouded. The Methodist doctrine is distinguished 
from these by a few strong points which it has held with deep 
tenacity from the beginning. It believes that the witness 
of the Spirit to the spirit in man is direct and clear ; distinct 
from "the word, and from the faith that lays hold on the word, 
though closely connected with both. It is not separated from 
the testimony which is believed ; for, implicitly or explicitly, 
the promise in Christ must be apprehended by faith. But 
faith in this matter is rather trust in a Person than belief of 
a record ; and that trust is distinct from the assurance He 
gives, though that assurance follows so hard upon it that in 
the supreme blessedness of appropriating confidence they are 
scarcely to be distinguished. While the faith itself may be al- 
ways firm, the assurance may be sometimes clouded and uncer- 
tain. Neither can co-exist with lapse into sin ; and therefore 
the witness may be suspended, or may be indeed finally lost. 
It is the assurance of faith only for the present ; only the assur- 
ance of hope for the future. It may be calm in its peace, or 
may be quickened into rapture. But it must be confirmed by 
the testimony of a good conscience ; while, on the other hand, 
it is often the silencer of a conscience unduly disturbed. It is, 
to sum up, in all types of Methodist theology — whatever abuses 
it may suffer in some Methodist conceptions of it — no other than 
the soul's consciousness of an indwelling Saviour through the 
secret and inexplicable influence of his Holy Spirit. 

Perhaps the most eminent peculiarity of the type of doctrine 
called Methodist is its unfaltering assertion of the believer's 
privilege to be delivered from indwelling sin in the present 
life. Its unfaltering assertion : for although varying very 
much on some subordinate matters of statement as to the means 

184 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

of attainment and the accompanying assurance, it has always 
been faithful to the central truth itself. Its unfaltering asser- 
tion : for in the maintenance of this it has met with the most 
determined hostility, not only from such opponents as deny the 
doctrines of grace generally, but also from those whose evan- 
gelical theology in general and whose high sanctity give their 
opposition a very painful character and make it very embar- 

It cannot be too distinctly impressed that the one element in 
the Methodist doctrine that may be called distinctive, is the 
article that the work of the Spirit in sanctifying believers from 
sin — from all that in the divine estimate is sin — is to be complete 
in this state of probation. This is the hope it sees set before 
us in the Gospel, and this, therefore, it presses upon the pursuit 
and attainment of all who are in Christ. This is, in the judg- 
ment of many, its specific heresy ; this, in its own judgment, is 
its specific glory. It may be said that the suppression and de- 
struction of inbred sin, or, as St. Paul calls it, indwelling sin, is 
the one point where its aim is beyond the general aim. A 
long catena of ecclesiastical testimonies bears witness that a 
high doctrine of Christian perfection has been taught in all 
ages, and in many communities ; coming, in some instances, 
within a hair's-breadth of this, but shrinking back from the last 
expression of the truth. The best of the ascetics and mystics 
of ancient and modern .times both taught and exemplified a 
high standard of purification from sin, interior illumination, 
and supernatural union with God ; but, whether from miscon- 
ceived humility or lack of the highest triumph of faith, they 
invariably reserved the secret residue of evil as necessary to 
human discipline. This last fetter Methodism will not reserve ; 
its doctrine pu'rsues the alien and the enemy into its most in- 
terior stronghold, and destroys it there ; so that the temple of 
God in the human spirit shall be not only emptied of sin, but 
swept also from every trace that it had been there, and gar- 
nished with all the graces of the divine image. It reads and 

Methodist Doctrine. 185 

fearlessly interprets all those clauses in the charter of grace 
which speak of the destruction of the body of sin, of putting 
off the old man, of crucifying the flesh unto death, of an entire 
sanctification of man's whole nature, of a preservation in fault- 
lessness, of a perfect love casting out fear, of being purified as 
Christ is pure, and of the love of God perfected in the human 
soul. Against this array of testimonies there is no argument 
that comes from God ; there is no contradictory array of 
scriptural testimonies. Redemption from the flesh spiritually 
understood, is not made synonymous or simultaneous with re- 
demption from the flesh physically interpreted. Iso sin can 
pass the threshold of life, for the expurgation of intermediate 
fires of discipline ; and there is no provision in heaven for the 
destruction of evil. Death itself cannot take the office of the 
atoning blood and the purifying Spirit. Then it follows that 
the final stroke must be in the present life ; the atonement is 
not more certainly a finished work than the application of it 
by the Holy Ghost ; the Spirit's " It is finished " must needs 
follow the Son's, and in a voice that speaks on earth. All 
Scripture speaks of a holy discipline, longer or shorter, effect- 
ual in all branches of ethics and of the imitation of Christ and 
of charity to man, which precedes it ; and of a continual ad- 
vancement in every thing heavenly that follows it : but there 
must be a sacred moment .of final deliverance from what God 
sees as sin in the soul. This is Christian perfection — a word 
which is essentially conditioned : a word which, indeed, is 
not affected by Methodist theology ; and, when used, is always 
guarded by its necessary adjectives of Christian, evangelical, 
and relative. 

Something has been said of the inductive character of Meth- 
odist doctrine generally, and with special reference to its views 
of personal assurance as being much built upon personal ex- 
perience. Now it must be asserted that- with regard to the 
present doctrine, of an entire deliverance from sin, the induc- 
tion was primarily and pre-eminently a scriptural one. Meth- 

186 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

odism began to announce this high and most sacred possibility 
of the Christian life very early ; in fact, long before any expe- 
rience of its own verified the announcement : and it has con- 
tinued the testimony until now altogether apart from the 
vouchers of living witnesses. Its principle has been that God's 
word must be true, and his standard the right one, however 
the lives of the saints may halt behind it. At the same time, it 
cannot be denied that in the historical development of the 
Methodist doctrine itself, the induction of its own experiences 
has played an important part, and not always a satisfactory one. 
Time would fail, and it would be an ungrateful task, to explain 
in what sense it has been sometimes unsatisfactory. Suffice to 
say, that some forms of the doctrine assert, with more or less of 
positiveness, what cannot be maintained by the warranty of the 
Bible ; based upon experimental inductions not controlled by 
Scripture. The " second blessing " is sometimes confounded 
with the first, as if an entire consecration to God, which is 
the perfect beginning only, were an entire sanctification from 
all sin ; a blessing, it may be, yet far in the distance. The effu- 
sion of divine love in the soul, sometimes to so full a degree as 
to make the possibility of sinning a strange thought to the soul, 
is sometimes mistaken for that " perfected love " of which it is 
only the earnest. We must go to St. John's first Epistle — the 
last testimony of the Bible — for our doctrine on this subject. 
Now that Epistle gives the most explicit assurance that there 
is set before the aspiration of the saint a perfected and finished 
operation of divine love, the triumph of which is the extinction 
of sin and fear. But it is observable, that before the last testi- 
mony to love in man as perfected, we have three testimonies to 
the gradual operation of the love of God in us, which carry it 
into the three departments of the covenant of grace mentioned 
above. First, into that of law : " "Whoso keepeth his word, in 
him verily is the love of God perfected." Perfected love is, 
in the estimation of God, the fulfilling of the righteousness of 
the law, and its triumph is bound up with our habitual obedi- 

Methodist Doctrine. 187 

ence in all things. Secondly, into the department of sonship : 
" If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is 
perfected in us." Universal, boundless, self-sacrificing charity 
— for such is the pattern of Christ's charity — is the condition 
as well as the goal of perfected love. Thirdly, into the temple of 
consecration : " He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and 
God in him. Herein is our love " — love with us — " made per- 
fect." Abstraction from all created desire, and supreme union 
with God, is also both the condition and the crown of perfected 
love. Much more might be written on this subject : but this is 
enough. Notwithstanding every drawback, it still remains that 
the testimony borne for a century to the highest privileges of 
the Christian covenant is the glory of its theology. It has 
stimulated the religious life of countless multitudes. It has kept 
before the eyes of the people formed by it the one supreme 
thought, that Christianity is a religion which has one only goal, 
whether in the Church or in the individual — the destruction of 
sin. And we believe the day is coming when the Church of 
God upon earth will have given to it an enlarged heart to 
receive this doctrine in all its depth and fullness. 

Slight as this sketch has been, it has not omitted any point 
that may be fairly included in the differentia of the theology 
called Methodist. Of course, it has its specific type of presenta- 
tion in the case of many articles of the creed ; but it would be 
an endless task to dwell upon these, especially as in regard to 
some of them there is no definite standard among Methodist 
people. They claim a certain latitude in the minor develop- 
ments of central truths ; and are as free in the non-essentials 
as they are rigid in the essentials of the faith. The body of 
divines whose theology is thus described are far from being 
bound to a system stereotyped and reticulated in its minutest 
detail. While the slightest deviation from what may be here 
called orthodoxy or fundamental doctrine never fails to awaken 
the keenest sensibility, and any thing like vital error is infalli- 
bly detected and cast out, there is a very large tolerance on 

188 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

subordinate matters. That tolerance some may think carried 
too far ; but be that as it may, it exists, and it always will exist. 
This may be illustrated by two topics, in themselves of vital 
importance, but the aspects of which vary to different minds. 
One is the inspiration of Holy Scripture. The general truth 
that the Bible is, from beginning to end, the fruit of the Spir- 
it's agency and the authoritative standard of faith, directory of 
morals and charter of privileges, is firmly and universally held : 
Methodism knows no vacillation here. It is free from the 
error which enlarges the limits of the canon, on the one hand, 
with the Romanists ; and from that which contracts them by 
making the word of God a certain something within the Bible 
which men must find for themselves. It does not admit the 
concurrent endowment of the Church with a perpetual inspira- 
tion : thus introducing two voices, that of Scripture and that 
of the Church, one of which may contradict or neutralize the 
other. It has never shared the laxity of the Reformers 
and of the Arminians as to certain books and certain degrees 
of inspiration : no modern theology is more faithful to the 
plenary authority of Scripture ; none approaches nearer than 
it does to the high strain of the early fathers. But, inasmuch 
as Scripture itself never defines or gives the sense of its own 
inspiration, Methodism does not attempt to supply its deficiency, 
and define what is undefinable. It leaves, for instance, the 
many vexed questions which crowd around what is called verbal 
inspiration, and the uncertainty of the text here and there 
arising from the withdrawal of the autographs, and the methods 
of reconciling the seeming discrepancies of Scripture, to con- 
scientious and enlightened private judgment. It allows the 
same latitude here, no more no less, that every evangelical com- 
munity allows. But no community falls back more absolutely 
or more implicitly than Methodism upon the supreme defense 
of the entire Bible which our Lord's authority gives it : of the 
Old Testament Scriptures as we hold them by his own word ; 
of the New Testament Scriptures by his Spirit. It cannot be 

Methodist Doctkine. 189 

said that it is more swayed than others by the self -evidencing 
light of the word of God ; but certainly none are more swayed 
by it. And it may be asserted with confidence, though with- 
out boasting, that there is no communion in Christendom the 
theological writings of which are so universally free from the 
tincture of doubt or suspicion as to the supremacy of the Bible. 
This is not — as some would affirm — through the lack of either 
independent thought or biblical culture ; this loyalty of Meth- 
odism rests upon the best of all foundations. 

Another is the doctrine of the sacraments. Methodist teach- 
ing has, from the beginning, mediated here between two ex- 
tremes which need not be more particularly defined : in that 
mediation keeping company with the Anglican Formularies, 
and the Presbyterian "Westminster Confession, both of which 
raise them above mere signs, and lay stress on their being seals 
or pledges or instruments of the impartation of the grace sig- 
nified to the prepared recipient. All its old standards, includ- 
ing its hymns, bear witness to this ; they abundantly and irre- 
sistibly confirm our assertion as to the sacramental idea gener- 
erally. As to the two ordinances in particular, there can be 
no doubt that the sentiments of the various Methodist com- 
munions run through a wide range. Recoil from exaggerated 
doctrine has led many toward the opposite extreme ; and a 
large proportion of their ministers put a very free construction 
upon their standards, and practically regard the two sacraments 
as badges simply of Christian profession, the Eucharist being 
to them a special means of grace in the common sense of the 
phrase. There is a wide discretion allowed in this matter, and 
the wisdom of this discretion is, on the whole, justified. With 
that question, however, we have nothing to do here ; our only 
object being to state the case as it is. 

But this essay must be closed, leaving untouched many sub- 
jects which naturally appeal for consideration. Something 
ought to be said as to the controversial aspect of this theology. 
But leaving that for other essays, we have only to commend 

190 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

the general principles of the Methodist theology to any strangers 
to it who may read these pages. They will find it clear and 
consistent, on the whole, as a human system, worthy of much 
more attention than it usually receives from the Christian 
world ; and, what is of far more importance, they will find it 
pervaded by the " unction from the Holy One," which is the 
secret of all truth and of all edification. 


JOHN "WESLEY has given currency to a set of divine ideas 
easily acted upon but not always clearly apprehended, which 
make up the sum of personal religion, and without which, it 
may be added, personal religion cannot exist. This is the 
philosophy of his career ; perhaps very imperfectly understood 
by himself, probably never drawn out by him in a systematic 
form, yet sufficiently obvious to us who look back upon his 
completed life, and live amid the results of his labors. Im- 
mersed in the complexities of the game, the turmoil of the 
storm in which his busy life was cast, the unceasing struggle 
of his soul with the gigantic evils of the world, he could 
neither observe nor analyze, as we can do, the elements ar- 
rayed against Mm nor the principles evolved in the conflict 
that were ministrant to his success. As we are in the habit of 
instinctively raising the arm or lowering the eyelid to repel or 
shun danger, so he adapted measures and evolved truths by force 
of circumstances more than by forethought — those truths and 
measures so adapted to his position as a preacher of righteous- 
ness amid an opposing generation that we recognize in their 
adaptation and natural evolution proof of their divineness. 
They are the same truths which were exhibited in the first 
struggles of an infant Christianity with the serpent of pagan- 
ism; and when exhibited again upon a like arena seventeen 
centuries afterward with similar success, are thus proved to be 
every-where and always the same, eternal as abstract truth, 
and essential as the existence of God. 

The first grand truth thrown upon the surface of John 

192 The Wesley Mejioeial Volume. 

"Wesley's career, we take to be the absolute necessity of per- 
sonal and individual religion. 

To the yoke of this necessity he himself bowed at every 
period of his history. Never, even when most completely 
astray as to the ground of the sinner's justification before 
God, did he fail to recognize the necessity of conversion, and 
of individual subjection to the laws of the Most High. "What 
he required of others, and constantly taught, he cheerfully ob- 
served himself. Yery soon after starting upon his course did 
he learn that the laver of baptism was unavailing to wash 
away the stain of human defilement ; the Supper of the Lord, 
to secure admission to the marriage supper of the Lamb ; and 
Church organization, to draft men collectively to heaven by 
simple virtue of its corporate existence. These delusions, 
whereby souls are beguiled to their eternal wrong, soon ceased 
to juggle him ; for his eye, kindled to intelligence by the Spirit 
of God, pierced the transparent cheat. He ascertained at a 
very early period that the Church had no delegated power to 
ticket men in companies for a celestial journey, and sweep 
thern railroad-wise in multitudes to their goal; consequently, 
that this power, where claimed or conceded, was usurpation on 
the one hand, and a compound of credulousness and servility 
on the other, insulting to God and degrading to man. But he 
began with himself. We suppose he never knew the hour in 
which he did not feel the need of personal religion to secure 
the salvation of the soul. He was happily circumstanced in 
being the son of pious and intelligent parents, who would 
carefully guard him against the prevalent errors on these 
points. He never could have believed presentation at the font 
to be salvation, nor the vicarious vow of sponsors to be a substi- 
tute for personal renunciation of the world, the flesh, and the 
devil : and he early showed this. When the time of his ordi- 
nation drew nigh, and he was about to be inducted into the 
cure of souls, he was visited with great searchings of heart. 
His views of the mode of the sinner's acceptance with God 

Ideas Wesley Developed. 193 

were confused, indeed ; but on the subject of personal conse- 
cration they may be said never to have varied. Fighting his 
way, as he was called to do, through a lengthened period of 
experimental obscurity — " working out his salvation with fear 
and trembling" — we nevertheless cannot point to any moment 
in his spiritual history in which he was not a child of God. 
What an incomparable mother he must have had ! What a 
hold must she have established upon his esteem and confi- 
dence, to whom this Fellow of a college referred his scruples 
and difficulties in view of his ordination, and whom his schol- 
arly father bade him consult when his own studious habits and 
abundant occupations forbade correspondence with himself ! 
Animated to religious feeling about this time, he made a sur- 
render of himself to God ; made in partial ignorance, but 
never revoked. " I resolved," he says, " to dedicate all my 
life to God, all my thoughts, and words, and actions ; being 
thoroughly convinced there was no medium ; but that every 
part of my life (not some only) must either be a sacrifice to 
God or myself, that is, in effect, to the devil." And his pious 
father, seconding his son's resolve, replies : " God fit you for 
your great work ! fast, watch, and pray ! believe, love, endure, 
and be happy ! " And so he did, according to his knowledge ; 
for a more conscientious clergyman and teacher, for the space 
of ten years, never lived than the Eev. John Wesley, Fellow 
and tutor of Lincoln. 

But there was a whole world of spiritual experience yet 
untrodden by him amid the round of his college duties, ascetic 
practices, and abounding charities. His heart told him, and 
books told him, and the little godly company who met in 
his rooms all told him, in tones more or less distinct, that he 
had not yet attained ; that he was still short of the mark ; that 
the joys of religion escaped his reach, though its duties were 
unexceptionably performed. His course of reading, the mystic 
and ascetic writers, together with the dry scholastic divinity 
that furnishes the understanding but often drains the heart, 

194 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

tended to this result — to fill the life with holy exercises rather 
than to overflow the soul with sacred pleasure. Of the 
6imple, ardent, gladsome, gracious piety of the poor he yet 
knew next to nothing. But God was leading him through the 
wilderness of such an experience as this by a right way to a 
city of habitation, doubtless that he might be a wise instructor 
to others who should be involved hereafter in mazes like his 
own. He looked upon religion as a debt due by the creature 
to the Creator, and he paid it with the same sense of con- 
straint with which one pays a debt, instead of regarding it 
as the ready service of a child of God. A child of God 
could not be other than religious ; but, more than this, he 
would not if he could ; religion is his " vital breath," his " na- 
tive air." 

But Wesley did not understand, as yet, the doctrine of free 
pardon, the new birth, and the life of faith ; he, therefore, 
worked — conscientiously and laboriously worked — like a serv- 
ant, and not like a son, of God. But God sent some poor Cal- 
vinists to teach him these truchs ; and he was not too proud to 
learn from very humble but sufficiently enlightened teachers — a 
few Moravian emigrants that sailed in the same vessel with him 
to Georgia. Their unaffected humility, unruffled good temper, 
and serenest self-possession in prospect of death when storms 
oyertook the ship, struck him forcibly, and made him feel that 
they had reached an eminence in the divine life on which his 
college studies, extensive erudition, and pains-taking devotion 
had failed to land himself. He, therefore, sat himself at their 
feet ; he verified the Scripture metaphor, and became " a little 
child." In nothing was the lofty wisdom of John Wesley, and 
his submission to divine teaching, more apparent than in this, 
that he made himself a fool that he might be wise. Salvation 
by grace, and the witness of the Spirit, were taught him by 
these God-fearing and happy Moravians ; and his understand- 
ing became full of light. It was only, however, some three 
years afterward, subsequent to his return to England, which 

Ideas Wesley Developed. 195 

took ]3lace in 1788, that the joy of this free, present, eternal 
salvation flowed in upon his soul. The peace of God which 
passeth all understanding took possession of heart and mind 
through Christ Jesus, and for fifty years afterward he never 
doubted, he never could doubt, of his acceptance with our 
Father who is in heaven. The sunshine of his soul communi- 
cated itself to his countenance, and lighted all his conversation. 
To speak with him seemed almost like speaking with an angel 
of God. 

From that time he began to preach a new doctrine — a doc- 
trine of privilege as well as duty ; of acceptance through the 
Beloved, an assured sense of pardon, and the happiness of the 
service of God. And God gave him unlooked-for, unhoped-for 
success. Excluded by almost universal consent from the 
churches of the Establishment, he betook himself to barns and 
stable yards and inn rooms ; and ultimately, with Whitefield, 
ti the open air, to the streets and lanes of the city, to the hills 
and valleys, and to the commons and heaths of his native land ; 
and with power and unction, with the Holy Ghost and much 
assurance, did he testify to each of his hearers the doctrines of 
personal repentance and faith, and the necessity of the new 
birth for the salvation of the soul. And signs and wonders fol- 
lowed in them that believed ; multitudes were smitten to the 
ground under the sword of the Spirit ; many a congregation was 
changed into a Bochim, a place of weeping ; and amid sobs and 
tears and wailings beneath which the hearts of the most stub- 
born sinners quailed, one universal cry arose, "What must we 
do to be saved ? " John "Wesley's divine, simple, scriptural 
answer was, " Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt 
be saved." 

His personal experience of the efficacy of the prescription 

gave confidence to his advice. The physician had been healed 

himself first ; he Lad been his own earliest patient; he knew 

the bitterness of the pain, the virulence of the disease, and 

had proved the sanative power of his remedy. The ordeal of 

196 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

the new birth he had tried before recommending it to others, 
lie had visited the pool of Bethesda, and could, therefore, 
speak well of its waters. 

And well might it work such change, to have the necessity 
of personal religion insisted upon with such unprecedented par- 
ticularity and pointedness. He singled out each hearer ; he al- 
lowed no evasion amid the multitude ; he showed how salvation 
was not by a church, nor by families, nor by ministers, nor by 
ordinances, nor by national communions, but by a deep, sin- 
gular, individual experience of religion in the soul. His ad- 
dress was framed upon the model of the Scripture query, 
" Dost thou believe upon the Son of God ? " 

A second truth developed in the ministry of John "Wesley is, 
the absolute need of spiritual influence to secure the conversion 
of the soul. 

Conversion is not a question of willing or not willing on the 
part of man. The soul bears no resemblance to the muscles of 
the healthy arm, which the mere will to straighten and stiffen 
throws into a state of rigid tension at the instant, and retains 
them so at pleasure. The soul is in the craze and wreck of 
paralysis : the power of action does not respond to the will : 
the whole head is sick, the heart faint. To will is present with 
us, but how to perform that which is good we know not. The 
sick man would be well, but the wish is unavailing till the sim- 
ple, the leech, and the blessing of the Most High, conspire to 
invigorate. Just so it is with the soul ; it must tarry till it be 
endued with power from on high ; but not, be it understood, in 
the torpor of apathy, nor in the slough of despair; no, but 
wishing, watching, waiting. Though its search were as fruit- 
less as that of Diogenes, it must be seeking, nevertheless ; just 
as, though the prophet's commission be to preach to the dead, 
he must not dispute nor disobey. "We must strive to enter in 
although the gate be strait and the way narrow ; we must be 
feeling after God, if haply we may find him, though it be amid 
the darkness of nature and the tremblings of dismay. "We may 

Ideas "Wesley Developed. 197 

scarce have ability to repent after a godly sort, yet ought we to 
bring forth "fruits meet for repentance." With God alone 
may rest the prerogative to pronounce lis " sons of Abraham ; " 
yet, like Zaccheus, must we work the works becoming that 
relation, and right the wrong and feed the poor. While, then, 
we emphatically announce the doctrine that the influence of 
the Holy Ghost is necessary to quicken, renew, and purify the 
soul, we do at the same time repudiate the principle that man 
may fold his hands in sleep till the divine voice arouse him. 
Nothing short of a celestial spark can ignite the fire of our sac- 
rifice, but we can at least lay the wood upon the altar. None 
but the Lord of the kingdom can admit to the privilege of the 
kingdom ; but at the same time it is well to make inquiry of 
him who keeps the door. John was only the bridegroom's 
friend, the herald of better things to come ; yet " Jerusalem, 
and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan," did but 
their duty in flocking to him to hear his tidings, and learn where 
to direct their homage. To endangered men the night was 
given for far other uses than for sleep ; the storm is high, and 
the rocks are near ; the sails are rent, and the planks are starting 
beneath the fury of the winds and waves ! What is the dictate 
of wisdom, of imperious necessity ? what but to ply the pump, 
to undergird the ship, to strike the mast, haul taut the cordage, 
" strengthen the things that remain," and trust in the Most 
High ? If safety is vouchsafed, it is God who saves. So in 
spiritual things, man must strive as if he could do every thing, 
and trust as if he could do nothing ; and in regeneration the 
Scripture doctrine is, that he can do nothing. He may accom- 
plish things leading thereto, just as the Jews ministered to the 
resurrection of Lazarus by leading Christ to the sepulcher ; but 
it was the Divine voice that raised the dead. Thus sermons, 
scriptures, catechisms, and all the machinery of Christian 
action, will be tried and used, dealt out by the minister and 
shared by his flock ; but with each and all must the conviction 
rest, that it is not by might of mechanism, nor by power of 

198 The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 

persuasion, conversion is brought about, but by the Spirit of 
the Lord of Hosts. 

This truth had been grievously lost sight of in Wesley's days, 
sunk in the tide of cold morality that inundated the land, and 
consigned it to a theosophy less spiritual than that of Socrates 
or Plato. But up from the depths of the heathenish flood our 
great reformer fished this imperishable truth, a treasure-trove 
exceeding in value pearls of great price, or a navy of sunken 
galleons. And throughout his ministry this shone with un- 
equaled light; for if any thing distinguished it more than 
another from contemporary ministries, it was the emphatic 
prominence it assigned to the Spirit's work in conversion. 
This was the Pharos of his teaching, the luminous point which 
led the world-tossed soul into the haven of assured peace and 
conscious adoption. And much need was there that this dog- 
ma should have received this distinctive pre-eminence and 
peculiar honor, for it was either totally forgotten, coarsely trav- 
estied, or boldly denied. 

Having dealt with the truths that bear upon personal relig- 
ion and individual subjection to the truth, as well as the means 
whereby this was to be effected, the direct agency of the di- 
vine Spirit — things insisted upon with untiring energy by John 
"Wesley — we now turn attention to the views which our great 
reformer put forth regarding Christians in their associated ca- 

The third principle which "Wesley developed is, that the 
Church of Jesus Christ is a spiritual organization, consisting 
of spiritual men associated for spiritual purposes. 

This is the theory of that Church of which he was for se v- 
eral years the laborious and conscientious minister, and is no- 
where more happily expressed than in its Nineteenth Article : 
" The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful 
men, in the which the pure word of God is preached, and 
the sacraments duly administered according to Christ's ordi- 
nance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the 

Ideas Wesley Developed. 199 

same." But this beautiful and scriptural theory was to a great 
degree an unapproachable ideal in England until that sys- 
tem arose, under the creative hand of Wesley, which made it a 
reality and gave it a positive existence, " a local habitation and 
a name." It is true the name he gave it was not " Church ; " 
it was " The Society," and in other forms and subdivisions, 
bands, classes, etc. ; but in essence it was the same ; it was the 
union and communion of the Lord's people for common edifi- 
cation and the glory of Christ. As soon as two or three con- 
verts were made to those earnest personal views of religion he 
promulgated, the inclination and necessity for association com- 
menced. It was seen in his Oxford praying coterie ; seen in 
his fellowship with the Moravians ; and afterward fully exem- 
plified in the mother-society at the Foundery, Moorfields, and 
in all the affiliated societies throughout the kingdom. The sim- 
ple object of these associations was thus explained in a set of 
general rules for their governance, published by the brothers 
Wesley in 1743. The preamble states the nature and design of 
a Methodist Society to be " a company of men having the form 
and seeking the power of godliness ; united, in order to pray 
together, to receive the word of exhortation, and to watch over 
one another in love, that they may help each other to work 
out their salvation. There is only one condition previously 
required in those who desire admission into these Societies— a 
desire to flee from the wrath to come, and to be saved from 
their sins." They were further to evidence this desire : " 1. By 
doing no harm, by avoiding evil of every kind. 2. By doing 
good, by being in every kind merciful after their power ; as 
they have opportunity, doing good of every possible sort, and 
as far as it is possible to all men. And, 3. By attending upon 
all the ordinances of God. Such are the public worship of 
God ; the ministry of the word, either read or expounded ; the 
Supper of the Lord ; family and private prayer ; searching the 
Scriptures ; and fasting, or abstinence." Whether we regard 
the design of the association given in these terms, or the speci- 

200 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

fication of duty, we seem to trace a virtual copy of the articu- 
lar definition of the Church recently cited. Wesley never failed 
to recognize the scriptural distinction between the Church and 
the world, nor to mark it. While he viewed with becoming 
deference the kingdoms of this world, and bowed to the au- 
thority of the magistrate as the great cement of human society, 
the clamp that binds the stones of the edifice together, he saw 
another kingdom pitched within the borders of these, differing 
from them in every thing, and infinitely above them, yet con- 
sentaneous with them, and vesting them with its sanction, itself 
all the while purely spiritual in its basis, laws, privileges, and 
Sovereign. Blind must he have been, to a degree incompatible 
with his general perspicacity, had he not perceived this. The 
men who possessed religion, and the men who possessed it not, 
were not to be for a moment confounded. They might be 
neighbors in locality and friends in good-will, but they were 
as wide as the poles asunder in sentiment. The quick and the 
dead may be placed side by side, but no one can for ever so 
short a period mistake dead flesh for living fiber, the abne- 
gation of power for energy in repose. The Church and the 
church-yard are close by, but the worshipers in the one and the 
dwellers in the other are as unlike as two worlds can make 
them. The circle within the circle — the company of the con- 
verted — the irnperium in imperio — the elect, the regenerate, 
Wesley always distinguished from the mass of mankind, and 
made special provision for their edification in all his organ- 

And, in sooth, the marked and constant recognition of this 
spiritual incorporation it is which gives revealed religion its 
only chance of survival in the world. To forget it is practi- 
cally to abolish the distinction between error and truth, between 
right and wrong. There is no heresy more destructive than a 
bad life. To class the men of good life and the men of bad 
together ; to call them by the same name, and elevate them to 
the same standing, is high treason against the majesty of truth, 

Ideas Wesley Developed. 201 

poisons the very spring of morality, and does conscience to 
death. A nation cannot be a church, nor a church a nation. 
The case of Israel was the only one in which the two kingdoms 
were co-extensive, conterminous. A member of a nation a man 
becomes by birth, but a member of a church only by a second 
birth. Generation is his title to the one, regeneration to the 
other. The one is a natural accident, the other a moral state. 
Citizens are the sons of the soil, Christians are the sons of 
heaven. To clothe, then, the members of the one with the 
livery and title of the other, without the prerequisite qualifi- 
cation and dignity, is not only a solecism in language but an 
outrage upon truth. It is to reconcile opposites, harmonize 
discords, blend dissimilitudes, and identify tares with wheat, 
light with darkness, life with death. It is the destruction of 
piety among the converted, for they see the unconverted 
honored with their designation, advanced to their level, 
obtruded upon their society. It is ruin to the souls of the 
unconverted ; because without effort of their own, without 
faith or prayer, or good works, or reformation, or morals, they 
are surprised with the style and title, the status and rewards, of 
Christian men. This is, unfortunately, the practice on a large 
scale ; the theory is otherwise and unexceptionable. Imbued 
with a deep sense of the beauty and correctness of the theory, 
Wesley did only what was natural and right when he sought 
to make it a great fact— a substance, and not a shadow — in the militant. In this he not only obeyed a divine injunc- 
tion, but yielded to the current of events. By a natural attrac- 
tion his converts were drawn together. Like will to like. 
" They that feared the Lord spake often one to another ; " and 
" all tha-t believed were together." The particles were similar, 
the aggregate homogeneous. They had gone through the same 
throes, rejoiced in the same parentage, learned in the same 
school, and embraced the same destiny. They owned a com- 
mon creed, " one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and 
Father of all ; " resisted a common temptation, took up a com- 

202 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

mon cross, and, in common, renounced the world, the flesh, and 
the devil. They came together on the ground of identity of 
character, of desire for mutual discipline and benefit, and of 
community of feeling and interest. It is obvious to perceive 
that Wesley did not originate this communion, whether it were 
for good or evil ; for it was an ordinance of God in its primal 
institution, and in this particular instance arose out of the very 
nature of the case. Wesley could not have prevented it, except 
by such measures as would have undone all he had done. God's 
believing people found one another out, and associated by a 
law as fixed and unalterable as that kali and acid coalesce, or 
that the needle follows the magnet. But while he did not enact 
the law which God's people obeyed in this close inter-communion 
and relationship, he understood and revered it, and furthered 
and regulated the intercourse of the godly by the various enact- 
ments and graduated organizations of his system. He set the 
city upon the hill, and bade it be conspicuous ; the lamp upon 
the stand, and bade it shine ; the vine upon the soil, and said 
to it, Be fruitful. He set it apart and trimmed it, and hedged 
it in ; convinced that such a separation as Scripture enjoins 
was essential to its growth and welfare — a truth the Christian 
law teaches, and individual experience confirms. Every benefit 
the .institution of a Church might be supposed to secure is 
forfeited when the Church loses its distinctive character, and 
becomes identified with the world. 

But neither to glorify their founder by their closer com- 
bination, nor for self-complacent admiration, nor to be a gazing- 
stock for the multitude, nor for the tittle-tattle of mutual 
gossipry, did John Wesley segregate his people ; no, but for 
their good and the good of mankind. The downy bed of indo- 
lence for the Church, or the obesity that grows of inaction, 
never once came within his calculations as their lot. To rub 
the dust from each other, as iron sharpeneth iron, was the first 
object of their association ; and the second, to weld their forces 
together in the glowing furnace of communion for the benefit 

Ideas "Wesley Developed. 203 

of the world. They were to rejoice in the good grapes of their 
own garden, and sweeten by inoculation aad culture the sour 
grapes of their neighbors. They were to attract all goodness 
to themselves ; and where it was wanting create it, after the 
Arab proverb, " The palm-tree looks npon the pahn-tree, and 
groweth fruitful." It was as the salt of the earth they were 
to seek to retain their savor, and not for their own preservation 
alone. ISO one ever more sedulously guarded the inward sub- 
jective aspect of the Church, its self-denying intent, its exclu- 
sion of the unholy and unclean, than John Wesley ; and no one 
ever directed its objective gaze outward and away from itself, 
" to have compassion on the ignorant and out of the way," with 
more untiring industry than he. He knew the Church's mis- 
sion was more than half unfulfilled, while it locked itself up 
in its ark of security, and left the world without to perish. He 
was himself the last man in the world to leave the wounded 
to die, passing by in his superciliousness, and asking, " Who is 
my neighbor?" and the last to found a community which 
should be icy, selfish, and unfeeling. He was a working min- 
ister, and fathomed the depth and yielded to the full current 
of the truth, that the Church must be a working Church. 
Armed at all points with sympathies which brought him into 
contact with the world without, the Church must resemble 
him in this. He was an utterly unselfish being. He, if ever 
an}', could say : " I live not in myself, but I become portion 
of that around me." 

To work for the benefit of men when he might have taken 
his ease became a necessity of his nature, molded upon the 
pattern of his self-sacrificing Master, and the law of his being 
must be that of the Church's. The Church must " do or die." 
It must be instant in season, out of season. It must go into 
the highways and hedges. It must beseech men to be reconciled 
to God. It must compel them to come in. It must give no 
sleep to its eyes nor slumber to its eyelids till its work be done. 
It must stand on the top of high places, by the way in the 

204 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

places of the paths, and cry, " O ye simple, understand wisdom ; 
and ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart ! " It must gather 
all the might of its energies, and lavish all the wealth of its 
resources, and exhaust all the influences it can command, and 
coin all the ingenuity of its devices into schemes for the saving 
benefit of the world. Thus, not merely conservative of the 
truth must the Church be for its own edification and nurture, 
but also diffusive of the truth for the renewal and redemption 
of all around. 

And these were grand discoveries a hundred years ago, of 
which the credit rests very mainly with the Founder of Meth- 
odism, although mere commonplaces now. It is true they 
were partially and speculatively held even then, but very par- 
tially, and in the region of thought rather than of action. Some 
saw the truth of the matter, but it was in its proverbial dwell- 
ing, and the well was deep — just perceptible at the bottom, but 
beyond their grasp ; while to the many the waters were muddy, 
and they saw it not at all. There was no Bible, Tract, or Mis- 
sionary Society then to employ the Church's powers, and to 
indicate its path of duty. But Wesley started them all. He 
wrote and printed and circulated books in thousands upon thou- 
sands of copies. He set afloat home and foreign missions. The 
Church and the world were alike asleep ; he sounded the loud 
trumpet of the Gospel, and awoke the world to tremble and 
the Church to work. Xever was such a scene before in En- 
gland. The correctness and maturity of his views amid the 
deep darkness surrounding him is startling, wonderful ; like 
the idea of a catholic Church springing up amid a sectarian 
Judaism. It is midday without the antecedent dawn ; it beggars 
thought ; it defies explanation. A Church in earnest as a want 
of the times is even now, in these greatly advanced days, strenu- 
ously demanded, and eloquently enforced by appeal after appeal 
from the press, tne platform, and the pulpit ; but Wesley gave 
it practical existence from the very birth-hour of his Society. 
His vigorous bantling rent the swathing bands of quiet self- 

Ideas Wesley Developed. 205 

communing and prevalent custom, and gave itself, a young 
Hercules, to the straggle with the inertia of the Church and 
the opposition of the world. Successfully it encountered both. 
It quickened the one and subdued the other, and attained by 
the endeavor the muscular development, and manful port, and 
indomitable energy of its present life. John Wesley's Church 
is no mummy-chamber of a pyramid, silent, sepulchral, gar- 
nished with still figures in hieroglyphic coif and cerecloth, 
but a busy town, a busier hive, himself the informing spirit, 
the parent energy, the exemplary genius of the whole. Never 
was the character of the leader more accurately reflected in his 
troops. Bonaparte made soldiers, "Wesley made active Christians. 

The last principle we shall notice as illustrated by Wesley's 
career, has relation to the nature and worh of the ministry. 

A grand discovery, lying very near the root of Methodism, 
considered as an ecclesiastical system, it was the fortune of 
John Wesley to light upon not far from the outset of his 
career. A discovery quite as momentous and influential in 
the diffusion and perpetuation of his opinions as that with 
which Luther startled the world in 1525. Luther published 
the then monstrous heresy that ministers who are married 
can serve the Lord and his Church as holily, learnedly, and 
acceptably, as celibate priests and cloistered regulars ; and our 
hero found out that men unqualified by university education 
for orders in the Church were the very fittest instruments he 
could employ in the itinerant work of early Methodism. 
Rough work requires rough hands. The burly pioneer is as 
needful in the army as the dapper ensign, and the hewer of 
wood in the deep forest as the French polisher in the city. 
Now this was a great discovery — up to that period a thing 
unknown. The Roman Church knew nothing of sxich a de- 
vice ; its orders of various kinds bore no approximation to it ; 
presbyter and bishop were at equal removes from it ; the very 
Puritans and Non-conformists knew nothing of it, they being 
in their way as great sticklers for clerical order and their 

206 The "Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

succession as any existing body — the more pardonable, as some 
were living in the early part of "Wesley's history who had them- 
selves officiated in the churches of the Establishment. His 
discovery was, that plain men just able to read and explain 
with some fluency what they read and felt, might go forth 
without license from college, or presbytery, t or bishop, into 
any parish in the country — the weaver from his loom, the 
shoemaker from his stall — and tell their fellow-sinners of salva- 
tion and the love of Christ. This was a tremendous innovation 
upon the established order of things every-where, and was as 
reluctantly forced upon so starched a precisian as John "Wes- 
ley, as it must have horrified the members of the stereotyped 
ministries and priesthoods existing around. But as in Luther's 
case, so here — " the present necessity " was the teacher : " the 
fields were white to the harvest, and the laborers were few." 
"We have ample evidence to show that if he could have pressed 
into the service a sufficient number of the clerical profession 
he would have preferred the employment of such agents ex- 
clusively ; but as they were only few of this rank who lent 
him their constant aid, he was driven to adopt the measure 
which was, we think, the salvation of his system and in some 
respects its glory. 

The greater part of the clergy would have been unfitted for 
the work he would have allotted them, even had they not been 
hampered by the trammels of ecclesiastical usage. This usage 
properly assigns a fixed portion of clerical labor to one person ; 
and to discharge it well is quite enough to tax the powers of 
most men to the utmost. Few parish ministers, how conscien- 
tious and diligent soever, will ever have to complain of too 
little to do. But Wesley had a roving commission, and felt 
himself called, by his strong sense of the need of some extraor- 
dinary means, to awaken the sleeping population of the coun- 
try, to overleap the barriers of clerical courtesy and ecclesias- 
tical law, invading parish after parish of recusant incumbents 
without compunction or hesitancy at the overweening impulse of 

Ideas "Wesley Developed. 207 

duty. However much some clergymen may have sympathized 
with him in religious opinion, it is easy to understand how 
many natural and respectable scruples might prevent their 
following such a leader in his Church errantry. They must, 
in fact, have broken with their own system to give themselves 
to his, and this they might not be prepared to do. They might 
value his itinerating plan as supplementary to the localized 
labors of the parish minister, but at the same time demur to its 
taking the place of parochial duty, as its tendency was and as its 
effect has been. Thus was "Wesley early thrown upon a species 
of agency for help which he would doubtless sincerely deplore 
at first, namely, a very slenderly equipped but zealously ardent 
and fearless laity ; but which, again, his after experience led 
him to value at its proper worth, and to see in the adaptation of 
his men to the common mind their highest qualification. " Fire 
low," is said to have been his frequent charge in after life to 
young ministers ; a maxim the truth of which was confirmed by 
the years of an unusually protracted ministry and acquaintance 
with mankind. A ministry that dealt in perfumed handker- 
chiefs, and felt most at home in Bond-street and the ball-room — 
the perfumed popinjays of their profession ; or one that, emu- 
lous of the fame of JSTimrod, that mighty hunter before the 
Lord, sacrificed clerical duty to the sports of the field, prized 
the reputation of securing the brush before that of being a 
good shepherd of the sheep, and deemed the music of the 
Tally-ho or Hunting Chorus infinitely more melodious than the 
Psalms of David ; or, again, one composed of the fastidious 
students of over-refined sensibilities, better acquainted with the 
modes of thought of past generations than with the actual 
habits of the present, delicate recluses and nervous men, the 
bats of society, who shrink from the sunshine of busy life 
into the congenial twilight of their libraries, whose over-edu- 
cated susceptibilities would prompt the strain — 

" lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud ! 
I fall upon the thorns of life, I bleed !" — 

208 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

these would have utterly failed for the work John Wesley 
wanted them to do. Ministers from the higher walks of life 
would either to a great degree have wanted those sympathies 
that should exist between the shepherd and the flock, or would 
have yielded before the rough treatment the first Methodist 
preachers were called to endure. Although the refinement of 
a century has done much to crush the coarser forms of persecu- 
tion, it must not be forgotten that the early ministers of Meth- 
odism were called to encounter physical quite as frequently as 
logical argumentation. The middle terms of the syllogisms 
they were treated to were commonly the middle of the horse- 
pond and their sorites the dung-heap. Now the plain men 
whom Wesley was so fortunate as to enlist in his cause were 
those whose habits of daily life and undisputing faith in the 
truth of their system qualified to " endure hardness as good 
soldiers." They were not over-refined for intercourse with rude, 
common people ; could put up with the coarsest fare in their 
mission to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to the 
poorest of the poor ; and were not to be daunted by the per- 
spective of rotten eggs and duckings, of brickbats and manda- 
muses, Avhich threatened to keep effectually in abeyance any 
temptation to incur the woe when all men should speak well 
of them. Hence among the first coadjutors of the great leader 
were John Nelson, a stone-mason ; Thomas Olivers, a shoe- 
maker ; William Hunter, a farmer ; Alexander Mather, a 
baker ; Peter Jaco, a Cornish fisherman ; and Thomas Hanby, 
a weaver. 

Thus the ministry that was to fasten upon the people was 
rightly taken from among the people, a point never to be lost 
sight of by any religious body aiming at popular influence. 
In the same proportion as the teachers are selected from the 
aristocracy or the middle classes, the field of labor will be 
confined to those classes, and the poor will, by a law that on 
the broad scale admits of no exceptions, throw themselves into 
the hands of persons of their own rank. The Church militant 

Ideas Wesley Developed. 209 

must never forget that its highest mission is to the lowest, and 
that it is then most divine when it can most confidently affirm, 
after its Master, " To the poor the gospel is preached ! " Any 
Church that is, to an observable degree, unsuitable to the poor, 
disliked by the poor, and deserted by the poor, has failed to 
the same degree, in one main object of its establishment, and 
fails to the same degree in securing the blessing of the God of 
the poor. 

Another point in regard to the ministry to which Wesley 
gave habitual prominence, was the duty of making that pro- 
fession a laborious calling. The heart and soul of his system, 
as of his personal ministry, he made to be work. Work was 
the mainspring of his Methodism — activity, energy, progression. 
From the least to the largest wheel within wheel that necessity 
created, or his ingenuity set up, all turned, wrought, acted in- 
cessantly, and intelligently too. It was not mere machinery ; 
it was full of eyes. To the lowest agent of Methodism — be it 
collector, contributor, exhorter, or distributer of tracts— each 
has, besides the faculty of constant occupation, the ability to 
render a reason for what he does. Work and wisdom are in 
happy combination ; at least such was the purpose of the con- 
triver, and we have reason to believe they have been in a fair 
proportion secured. And the labor that marks the lower, marks 
pre-eminently the -higher, departments of the system. The 
ministry, beyond all professions, demands labor. He that seeks 
a cure that it may be a sinecure, or a benefice which shall be a 
benefit to himself alone — who expects to find the ministry a 
couch of repose instead of a field for toil — a bread-winner 
rather than a soul-saver by means of painful watchings, fast- 
ings, toils, and prayers — has utterly mistaken its nature, and is 
unworthy of its honor. It is a stewardship, a husbandry, an 
edification, a ward, a warfare, demanding the untiring effort of 
the day and unslumbering vigilance of the night to fulfill its 
duties and secure its rewards. It is well to remember that the 
slothful and the wicked servant are conjoined in the denuncia- 

210 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

tion of the indignant Master : " TJiou wicked and slothful 
servant ! " 

Where there may be sufficient lack of principle to prompt 
to indolence and self-indulgence, there are few communions 
which will not present the opportunity to the sluggish or sen- 
sual minister. But the Methodist mode of operations is better 
calculated than perhaps almost any other for checking human 
corruption when developing itself in this form. The ordinary 
amount of official duty required of the traveling preachers is 
enough to keep both the reluctant and the willing laborer con- 
stantly employed. 

And Mr. Wesley exacted no more of others than he cheer- 
fully and systematically rendered himself, daily, labor, even to 
weariness, being the habit of his life. A glance at his employ- 
ments at different periods of his career will dispel the mystery 
attending the marvelous productiveness of his pen, and multi- 
plicity of his labors, but only to heighten our respect for his 
industry, perseverance, and conscientiousness. The sketch 
which he has given of his daily labors is no artist's sketch, 
hung up in his studio as a specimen of his skill, or poet's por- 
trait, prefixed to doggerel dithyrambs, with "eye in a fine 
frenzy rolling," to gratify personal vanity, or lure love-sick 
misses ; but the grave, unvarnished report of a grave, earnest 
man, who knew there was little to commend in it, for in doing 
his utmost he only did what was his duty to do. Yet was he 
the prince of missionaries, however humble his self-estimate 
might be ; the prime apostle of Christendom since Luther ; his 
pre-eminent example too likely to be lost sight of in this mis- 
sionary age, when the Church, in the bustle of its present activ- 
ities, has little time to cherish recollections of its past worthies, 
or to speculate with clearness on the shapes of its future calling 
and destiny. But in one sense he was more than an apostle. 
By miracle they were qualified with the gift of tongues for 
missions to men of strange speech ; but Wesley did not shrink 
from the toil of acquiring language after language, in order to 

Ideas Wesley Developed. 211 

speak intelligibly on the subject of religion to foreigners. 
The Italian he acquired that he might minister to a few Yau- 
dois ; the German, that he might converse with the Moravians ; 
and the Spanish, for the benefit of some Jews among his 
parishioners. Such rare parts, and zeal, and perseverance, 
and learning, are seldom combined in any living man. We 
have never seen nor heard of any one like Wesley in the capac- 
ity and liking for labor ; we indulge, therefore, very slender 
hopes of encountering such a one in the remaining space of our 
pilgrimage. In our sober judgment it were as san« to expect the 
buried majesty of Denmark to revisit the glimpses of the moon, 
as hope to find all the conditions presented in John Wesley 
to show themselves again in England. We may not look upon 
his like again. 

Unlike many, unlike most enduring celebrities, Wesley was 
successful, popular, appreciated during his life-time, nor had to 
wait for posthumous praise. This was, doubtless, owing in part 
to the practical bent his genius took, which was calculated to 
win popular regard, as well as to the unequaled excellence he 
displayed in the line he had chosen. The man who was known 
to have traveled more miles, preached more sermons, and pub- 
lished more books than any traveler, preacher, author, since the 
days of the apostles, must have had much to claim the admira- 
tion and respect of his contemporaries. The man who exhib- 
ited the greatest disinterestedness all his life through, who has 
exercised the widest influence on the religious world, who has 
established the most numerous sect, invented the most efficient 
system of Church polity, who has compiled the best book of 
sacred song, and who has thus not only chosen eminent walks 
of usefulness, but in every one of them claims the first place, 
deserves to be regarded by them, and by posterity, as no com- 
mon man. A greater poet may arise than Homer or Milton ; a 
greater theologian than Calvin; a greater philosopher than 
Bacon or Newton ; a greater dramatist than any of ancient or 

modern fame; but a more distinguished revivalist of the 

212 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

Churches, minister of the sanctuary, believer of the truth, and 
blessing to souls, than John Wesley — never. There was in his 
consummate nature that exquisite balance of power and will, 
that perfect blending of the moral, intellectual, and physical, 
which forms the ne plus ultra of ministerial ability and serv- 
ice. In the firmament in which he was lodged he shone and 
shines " the bright particular star," beyond comparison, as he 
is without a rival. 


"They glorified God in me." — Gal. i, 24. 

EVERY human being has some influence on others ; and that 
influence is good or evil, according to his character ; feeble 
or powerful, according to his position, his natural talents, or his 
personal efforts. John Wesley had high principle, genuine 
piety, and eminent learning, combined with unwearied energy 
and incessant labors during a long life ; and his influence for 
good on his contemporaries and on posterity must, in the very 
nature of things, be proportionately great in its degree and 
extent — so great, indeed, that no human mind can fully 
estimate it. His influence is mainly spiritual in its nature, 
and, therefore, eternal in its results ; and like all moral and 
spiritual causes and operations, its effects stretch into infinity. 
We cannot tabulate them ; figures and statistics, however 
carefully and accurately compiled, cannot afford even an ap- 
proximate estimate of the amount of spiritual good resulting 
from the life and labors of John Wesley. Yet we may assert 
with confidence that blessings so great have resulted., from no 
other life since apostolic times. 

And these blessings have come without the usual alloy of 
concomitant or consequent evils. Unlike the awful struggles of 
the Protestant Reformation, Methodism overthrew no thrones, 
called forth no armies, and shed no blood, because it evoked 
no secular power to maintain its authority, to defend its claims, 
or promote its diffusion. It was purely a spiritual work — a 
mission of love — and it depended solely on the God of love for 
its success. True, it had to encounter fierce opposition; re- 
proach and scorn, brickbats and blows, were often profusely 

214 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

dealt out to the messengers of salvation, and some of them 
fell martyrs in their holy and benevolent work ; but they 
suffered, like their blessed Lord, with meekness and fortitude, 
not counting their lives dear unto themselves so that they 
might finish their course with joy, and the ministry they had 
received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace 
of God. 

It was not so much the province of John Wesley and his 
co-workers to recover lost truths, as to vitalize them ; to ex- 
emplify, enforce, and diffuse them, by their life and ministry. 
The great doctrines of salvation had been already recovered 
by the Reformers from the darkness and the putrid corruptions 
of popery ; and they were asserted in the creeds and formu- 
laries of Protestant Churches ; but they had become buried 
and fossilized in learned folios, and throughout Christendom 
they had few living witnesses. Indeed, the experimental doc- 
trines of justification by faith alone, and the witness of the 
Holy Spirit, were generally denied in the pulpit, though pro- 
fessed in the formularies of the Church ; and not only denied, 
but resisted ; while those who maintained and exemplified 
these essential truths were branded as visionaries, as deceivers, 
and rejected as enemies of the Church of God. In the estab- 
lished Church of England there was orthodoxy in the articles, 
homilies, and liturgy, but formalism and antichristian heresy 
in the pulpit. There were, indeed, instances of profound 
learning and exalted talent, but so equivocally employed as at 
one and the same time to be defending the evidences of re- 
ligion and undermining its experimental doctrines ; resisting 
the arrogant claims of popery, yet rebuilding the Arian hy- 
pothesis and asserting Pelagian errors. "While the doctrines of 
the Reformation were thus disowned and dishonored in the 
English Establishment, the Non-conformist Churches had be- 
come, in numerous instances, corrupt in principle and degener- 
ate in character. In many Churches predestinarian decrees 
had engendered Antinomianism, and in others had displaced 

Wesley's Influence on Religion. 215 

the saving doctrines of the cross. Many honorable exceptions 
there were, as we see in the character of Watts, Doddridge, 
Seeker, Leighton, Berridge, Adams, Yenn, Romaine, Perro- 
net, Guyse, Hurrion, and other pious contemporaries, who, 
like the weeping prophet of Judah, sighed over the broken 
walls of the Church, and prayed and labored for the restoration 
of truth and holiness ; but their own testimony, also, abun- 
dantly confirms the gloomy representation we have given of 
those days. 

The amiable Archbishop Leighton describes the Church in 
his day as " a fair carcass without spirit." Burnet, in 1713, 
complains that "the clergy were under more contempt than 
those of any Church in Europe ; for they were much the most 
remiss in their labors and the least severe in their lives ; " and 
he goes on to deplore the ignorance as well as the immoral 
lives of the clergy, alleging that the greater part of those who 
came to be ordained seem " never to have read the Scriptures, 
and many could not give a tolerable account even of the Cate- 
chism itself ; " and, further, that the " case was not much better 
with many who got into orders, as they could not make it 
appear that they had read the Scriptures, or any good book, 
since they were ordained." 

Judge Blackstone, early in the reign of George the Third, 
impressed with the degenerate condition of the Established 
Church, had the curiosity to go to hear every clergyman of 
note in London ; and he states that he " heard not a single ser- 
mon which had more of the gospel in it than the writings of 
Cicero ; and that it would have been impossible to know, from 
what he heard, whether the preacher was a follower of Confu- 
cius, of Mohammed, or of Christ." " Like priest, like people ; " 
for it was a natural consequence that ignorance, indifference, 
and immorality in the clergy should produce ignorance, infi- 
delity, and profligacy among the people. Archbishop Seeker, 
in 1738, thus describes the state of the nation : " In this we 
cannot be mistaken, that an open and professed disregard to 

216 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

religion is become, through a variety of unhappy causes, the 
distinguishing character of the present age ; that this evil is 
grown to a great height in the metropolis of the nation ; is 
daily spreading through every part of it ; and, bad in itself as 
any can be, must of necessity bring in all others with it. In- 
deed, it hath already brought in such dissoluteness and contempt 
of principle in the higher part of the world, and such profii- 
gateness, intemperance, and fearlessness in committing crimes 
in the lower, as must, if this torrent of impiety stop not, be- 
come absolutely fatal." Similar lamentations over the deadness 
of the Church and the profligacy, infidelity, and contempt of 
sacred things in the world, were expressed by Dr. Guyse, Dr. 
Watts, and many others ; and this state of things is thus 
summed up in the "North British Review" for August, 1847: 

Never has a century risen on Christian England so void of soul and 
faith as that which opened with Queen Anne, and which reached its 
misty noon beneath the second George — a dewless night succeeded by a 
sunless dawn. There was no freshness in the past, and no promise in 
the future. The memory of Baxter and of Usher possessed no spell, and 
calls for revival and reform fell dead on the echo. Confessions of sin, 
and national covenants, and all projects toward a public and visible 
acknowledgment of the Most High, were voted obsolete, and, in the 
golden dreams of Westminster, worthies only lived in Hudibras. The 
Puritans were buried, and the Methodists were not born. The reign 

of buffoonery was past, but the reign of faith and earnestness had not 
commenced. During the first forty years of that century, the eye that 
seeks for spiritual life can hardly find it ; least of all, that hopeful and 
diffusive life which is the harbinger of more. Bishop Butler observes: 
"It was taken for granted that Christianity was not so much as a subject 
for inquiry, but was at length discovered to be fictitious. And men 
treated it as if this were an agreed point among all people of discern- 

Had not the providence of God interposed at this crisis, the darkness 
must have deepened, the depravity gathered strength, and the state and 
character of the nation have degenerated to the worst degree ; causing 
it to assume, long ere this, a mixed complexion of heathenism, infidelity, 
and profligacy, such as is revolting to contemplate. Events of a subse- 

Wesley's Influence on Religion. 217 

quent date would have aggravated existing evils, and given force and 
activity to the most malignant and pernicious influences. The princi- 
ples and example of the French nation; the infidel metaphysics of 
Hume, and the atheistic philosophy of Mirabaud, Diderot, etc. ; the 
insidious skepticism of Gibbon, couched in elegant diction, and blended 
with an attractive theme ; the profane wit of Voltaire, and the coarse 
ribaldry of Paine ; the semi-deism of Priestley, with that of Belsham and 
Lindsay, and their coadjutors of the low Socinian school; the numerous 
equivocal lecturers on scientific subjects, investing nature with self-act- 
ing and independent powers, to the exclusion of God's presiding and 
active agency ; and the multitudinous skeptical publications, some elab- 
orate, and others light and ephemeral, which since that day have con- 
tinued to swarm from the press, would doubtless, without the counter- 
acting agency of a powerful revival of experimental and practical 
religion — without such a revival as that exhibited in Methodism — have 
combined to corrupt the principles and deprave the character of the 
nation, until the measure of its iniquity was full to the very brim, and 
the land had become reprobate — blighted and accursed by its own enor- 
mities, and scathed and rejected of God. This awful doom, however, 
was averted, and that revival of religion denominated Methodism was 
the principal, though not the only, means at once of saving the country 
from so great a calamity, and of introducing the brightest era in British 

While these humiliating confessions reveal the degenerate 
state of the Church in general, and show the need of a refor- 
mation, they show also, as by a foil, the wonderful influence 
which the Wesleys, Whitefield, and other holy men must have 
had in encountering existing evils, and bringing about the 
great revival which crowned their abundant labors. 

God had, indeed, been preparing the Church in divers places 
for the needed reformation just before those eminent men ap- 
peared actively in the field of labor. It shows the divine ori- 
gin of this movement, that in the early part of the eighteenth 
century, and just when the Wesleys and their little band of 
pious confreres at Oxford were struggling against their sins, 
and anxiously though ignorantly striving after salvation by 
penances, mortifications, and good works, gracious revivals had 
begun almost simultaneously in different and distant parts of 

218 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

the world, and that without any connection with or depend- 
ence npon each other. Thus the Moravian Church at Herrn- 
hutt, in Lusatia, after enduring severe and protracted suffer- 
ings in the very spirit of, martyrdom, had been visited with 
power from on high, and become fired with missionary ardor. 
In various parts of ]STew England, under the evangelical minis^ 
try of Jonathan Edwards, hundreds had become converted, and 
primitive earnestness was excited in the Churches. In the 
principality of Wales, under the powerful preaching of Howell 
Harris, though a layman, thousands had been brought to God 
and numerous Churches planted, consisting of converts who 
had lived previously in the darkest ignorance, and in all man- 
ner of ungodliness and profanity. Proceeding from the samij 
gracious influence, a remarkable revival was experienced a few 
years afterward in various parts of Scotland, under the simple 
but fervent ministry of the Rev. James Kobe. These several 
instances of gracious influence and power in different hemi- 
spheres at the same time had commenced without any human 
connection or mutual plan of co-operation. They were sepa- 
rately originated by that blessed Spirit who worketh as he will, 
and where he will ; though doubtless in answer to the prayers 
of his people, and in the use of scriptural means. There had 
been a few praying people in each place and country, who, 
unknown to each other, had been sighing and crying over the 
abominations of the land, and pleading with God for the out- 
pouring of his Spirit upon the moral deserts around them. 
And now God was preparing the "Wesleys themselves for the 
great work which he intended them to do. 

John and Charles Wesley, accompanied by some German 
ministers, embarked for America October 14, 1735, and landed 
at Savannah February 5, 1736. The two brothers went as mis- 
sionaries, but failed in this special work, mainly because they 
themselves needed a fuller baptism of the Holy Spirit ; and 
doubtless God designed their appointed field of labor to be in 
another hemisphere. Charles returned to England July 26, 

"Wesley's Influence on Keligion. 219 

1736, after spending little more than five months in Georgia, 
John embarked for England December 22, 1737, having spent 
less than two years in America, and landed at Deal February 1, 
1738. The two brothers returned wiser but sadder men ; their 
experience and their intercourse with the Moravian brethren 
having taught them that there were blessings of richer enjoy- 
ment by which they would be better qualified, as ministers of 
Christ, for the great work which lay before them. There was 
now no rest for the souls of these devout men. They read, 
they prayed, and they inquired after the more perfect way. 
They received fresh light from the instructions of Peter 
Bohler, and the testimony and experience of living witnesses, 
as to the blessing of a full assurance of personal acceptance by 
simple faith in Christ. They earnestly sought, and they found 
the blessing : Charles on the 21st of May, 1738, and John on 
the 24th of the same month. George Whitefield had obtained 
it before the Wesleys returned from America. 

These holy men, having received the spirit of adoption, went 
on their way rejoicing. If a cloud at any time obscured their 
prospects or damped their joy, it was soon dispelled by faith in 
Christ, and they grew in grace and in the knowledge of God 
their Saviour. Having themselves believed, they spoke ; they 
could not hide the sacred treasure they had found. The love 
of Christ constrained them ; their souls burned with celestial 
ardor, and they went forth wherever Providence called them, 
declaring the grace of God to their fellow-men, and offering to 
them the blessings of a free and present salvation by simple 
faith in Christ. 

Soon the doors of the Established Church were closed against 
them ; but when pent-up walls were forbidden to these messen- 
gers of mercy, they took to the apostolic method of preaching 
in the open air. Whitefield began this Christ-like mode of 
preaching February 17, 1739 ; John Wesley followed April 2, 
only six weeks after ; the zeal of Charles rose above his Church 
prejudices, and he proclaimed the Gospel in the open air, May 

220 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

29th of the same year. Now the wide door of the universe 
was open, and gave them boundless scope among the millions 
of our race, and ready access to the outcasts of men — the neg- 
lected and forgotten of mankind. The colliers assembled at 
Kingswood and Newcastle-on-Tyne ; and crowds of poor and 
rich, of high and low, in Moorfields and on Blackheath Com- 
mon ; and soon in e^ery part of England the long neglected and 
left to perish had the gospel carried to them by these messengers 
of mercy, and multitudes were awakened and saved. Masses of 
men and women amounting to ten thousand, twenty thousand, 
yea, fifty, and as some have computed, even sixty thousand were 
drawn together to hear these apostles of mercy, and the word 
was with power ; Whitefieid preaching with the glowing ardor 
of a seraph, and the "Wesleys with the clearness, calmness, and 
earnestness of the apostles. Mighty signs and wonders fol- 
lowed, for the hand of the Lord was with them, and the Spirit 
was poured out from on high. 

Whitefield traversed England, Scotland, and Ireland, for 
thirty-four years, and crossed the Atlantic thirteen times, pro- 
claiming the love of God and his great gift to mankind. A 
bright and exulting view of the atonement's sufficiency was his 
theology ; delight in God, and joy in Christ Jesus, were the 
essence of his religion ; and a compassionate solicitude for the 
souls of men, often rising to a fearful agony, was his ruling 
passion : and strong in the oneness of his aim, and the intensity 
of his feelings, he soon burst the regular bounds, and preached 
the Saviour on commons and village greens, and even to the 
rabble at London fairs. He was the prince of English preachers. 
Many have surpassed him as sermon makers, but none have 
approached him as a pulpit orator. Many have outshone him 
in the clearness of their logic, the grandeur of their conceptions, 
and the sparkling beauty of single sentences ; but in the power 
of darting the gospel direct into the conscience he eclipsed 
them all. With a full and beaming countenance, and the frank 
and easy port which the English people love — for it is the 

Wesley's Influence on Religion. 221 

symbol of honest purpose and friendly assurance — lie combined 
a voice of rich compass, which could equally thrill over Moor- 
fields in musical thunder, or whisper its terrible secret in every 
private ear ; and to this gainly aspect and tuneful voice he 
added a most expressive and eloquent action. But the glory 
of Whitefield's preaching was its heart-kindled and heart-melt- 
ing gospel. But for this, all his bold strokes and brilliant sur- 
prises might have been no better than the rhetorical triumphs 
of Kirwin and other pulpit dramatists. He was an orator, but 
only sought to be an evangelist. Like a volcano where gold 
and gems may be darted forth as well as common things, but 
where gold and molten granite flow all alike in fiery fusion, 
bright thoughts and splendid images might be projected from 
his flaming pulpit, but all were merged in the stream which 
bore along the Gospel and himself in blended fervor. Indeed, 
so simple was his nature, that glory to God and good-will to 
man having filled it, there was room for little more. Having 
no Church to found, no family to enrich, and no memory to 
immortalize, he was the mere embassador of God ; and, inspired 
with the genial spirit of his embassy, so full of Heaven recon- 
ciled and humanity restored, he soon himself became a living 
gospel. Radiant with its benignity, and trembling with its 
tenderness, by a sort of spiritual induction a vast audience 
would speedily be brought into a frame of mind the transfu- 
sion of his own ; and the white furrows on their sooty faces 
told that Kingswood colliers were weeping, or the quivering 
of an ostrich plume bespoke its elegant wearer's deep emotion. 
And coming to his work direct from communion with his 
Master, and in all the strength of accepted prayer, there was 
an elevation in his mien which often paralyzed hostility, and a 
self-possession which only made him amid uproar and fury the 
more sublime. With an electric bolt he would bring the jester 
in his fools cap from his perch on the tree, or galvanize the 
brickbat from the skulking miscreant's grasp, or sweep down 
in crouching submission and shamefaced silence the whole of 

222 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

"Bartholomew fair ; while a revealing flash of sententious doc- 
trine or verified Scripture would disclose to awe-struck hun- 
dreds the forgotten verities of another world, or the unsus- 
pected arcana of their inner man. " I came to break your 
head, but through you God has broken my heart," was a sort 
of confession with which he was familiar. 

John Wesley, with less of the scathing lightning and alarm- 
ing thunder in his eloquence, had a lucid precision in his teach- 
ing, an activity in his movements, and a dexterity in manage- 
ment, never equaled, perhaps, in the history of man. Both 
were equally faithful and heart-searching, both abundant in 
evangelical labors, energetic in character, and steady in their 
aim to glorify God. Charles Wesley, though from physical 
debility and tamer spirit less adapted for leading the way in 
the great movement, was yet an excellent co-worker for a sub- 
ordinate position, while his admirable genius struck the poetic 
lyre, and embodied in soft and harmonious numbers the glow- 
ing spirit of the revival. 

Such were the master spirits whom God raised up, and so 
eminently qualified with gifts natural and divine, for that 
extraordinary work to which they were called, the blessed 
effects of which we enjoy at this day. Never were sanctified 
minds more fitted for co-operation : the one was a complement 
to the other's deficiency, and their united qualities formed an 
agency of the most perfect combination. Thus, one in object 
and heart, and so adapted for conjoint usefulness, the Christian 
mind cannot but deplore that diversity of sentiment on some 
minor points should have led to separation. But Whitefield 
embraced the doctrine of absolute predestination, and Mr. John 
Wesley, fearing its tendency to produce antinomianism, pub- 
lished a sermon against that doctrine, which gave offense to 
Mr. Whitefield, and led to separation and temporary estrange- 
ment. This took place in 1743, about five years after Mr. 
Wesley's conversion ; but a reconciliation was effected in 1750 ; 
60 that although their societies remained distinct, they preached 

Wesley's Influence on Eeligion. 223 

in each others' chapels, and "their hearts were cemented with 
true Christian affection. As an evidence of this, Whitefield 
added the following codicil to his will : "I also leave a mourn- 
ing ring to my honored and dear friends, the Revs. John and 
Charles Wesley, in token of my indissoluble union in heart and 
Christian affection, notwithstanding our difference in judgment 
on some particular points of doctrine." 

Mr. Whitefield died at Newburyport, in New England, IT. S. 
of America, on the 30th of September, 1770. He died in the 
very midst of his labors, and in a state of utter exhaustion, a 
martyr to his irrepressible zeal, leaving behind him the im- 
perishable odor of his saintly character, and tens of thousands 
Of living voices to bless God that ever he was born. 

Wesley, with equal zeal but less excitement, was spared to 
continue his apostolic labors until he had attained his eighty- 
eighth year ; and then the wheels of nature, worn out with 
incessant and long-continued toil, gently relaxed until they 
stood still. He preached within nine days of his death. With- 
out pain and without fear he sang as he neared the eternal 

world — 

" I'll praise my Maker while I've breath, 
And when my voice is lost in death, " 

and on the very night of his exit he repeated, scores of times, 
the first words of the hymn : " I'll praise, I'll praise." Unable 
to say more- except the word "farewell," he expired March 2, 
1791, and was interred behind City Road Chapel, London. 
His brother Charles died three years before, on March 29, 1788, 
and it is a remarkable coincidence that at the very moment 
when Charles died, his brother John and his congregation in 
Shropshire were engaged in singing Charles Wesley's hymn, 

" Come, let us join our friends above 
That have obtained the prize," etc. 

In trying to estimate the influence of Wesley on the Chris- 
tian world we must first notice his own Church as a part, and 

224 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

now no small joart, of the Church of Christ. As the result of 
God's blessing on his genuine Christian experience, the sterling 
excellence and benevolence of his character, and his abundant 
labors, many thousands were converted to God, and became 
inspired with a spirit like his own. Among these were many 
who, like John Eelson, Thomas Walsh, and others, were them- 
selves constrained to preach, and to preach, (with less polish 
and ability indeed,) but with an earnestness hardly less intense 
than his own. As the result, thousands more were converted 
to God. Laborers being raised up as they were needed, the 
work spread until it prevailed to a wonderful degree, and ex- 
tended to the regions beyond. 

In the year 1785, March 24, Wesley records in his journal a 
brief review of the marvelous work of God in the following sim- 
ple, but graphic words : "I was now considering how strangely 
the grain of mustard seed, planted about fifty years ago, has 
grown up. It has spread through all Great Britain and Ire- 
land ; the Isle of Wight, and the Isle of Man ; then to America, 
from the Leeward Islands, through the whole Continent, into 
Canada and Newfoundland. And the Societies, in all these 
parts, walk by one rule, knowing religion is holy tempers ; and 
striving to worship God, not in form only, but likewise 'in 
spirit and in truth.' " This gratified review of the progress of 
God's work was recorded by Wesley six years before his death. 
But in the meantime "the grain of mustard seed" was still 
multiplying ; and when his happy spirit was called to its re- 
ward, the actual number enrolled as members under the 
organization of Methodism was 140,000 members, supplied by 
550 itinerant preachers. Wonderful growth ! But, looking at 
the wonderful extent of Methodism now, (1878,) eighty-eight 
years since Wesley's death, what shall we say of the far wider 
growth, and fructifying power of "the grain of mustard 
seed % " It has flourished in every quarter of the world, and 
its blessings of free salvation are expressed in languages spoken 
by many nations of the earth, numbering within its com- 

Wesley's Influence on Religion. 225 

prehensive pale, according to Dr. Tefft's computation, (which 
gives the latest statistics, and includes the various offshoots of 
Methodism,)/ the astounding number of 50,000 preachers, 
(local and itinerant,) 8,000,000 communicants, and 12,000,000 
of hearers. And if we include the Sunday scholars, as we 
must do in order to arrive at a full and faithful estimate of 
Methodism, the computation of Dr. Tefft is not an exaggeration. 
Here, then, taking the world's population at 1,200,000,000, is a 
ratio of one person to every sixty on the face of the earth 
either actually enrolled as members of the Methodist Churches 
or under the influence of the Methodist ministry ! Such a result 
in one hundred and forty years may well excite wonder, grati- 
tude, and praise. But, if from earth we lift our eyes to heaven, 
how many millions of happy glorified spirits are there at this mo- 
ment, gathered through the agency of Methodism from all parts 
of the world, around the throne of God, blessing and praising 
him that they were rescued from eternal perdition and brought 
to the joys of salvation ! "We are overpowered — we are lost 
in wondering contemplation of the vast multitudes that crowd 
upon our vision ! ISTot unto us, not unto man, but unto God 
be all the glory ! He hath done it. " This is the Lord's doing ; 
it is marvelous in our eyes." " His right hand, and holy arm, 
hath gotten him the victory." Blessed be his glorious name 
forever; yea, let all on earth and in heaven praise him for 
ever and ever. Amen. 

Yet the vast numbers which constitute the Methodist Churches 
on earth and in heaven, could we count them all, and place the 
entire aggregate in figures under our eye, would not adequately 
nor nearly represent the influence of Methodism. Other 
Churches have been quickened into new life by the reflex influ- 
ence of Wesley's piety, and the grand doctrine of a present 
and full salvation; other Churches have been aroused from 
lethargic slumbers into activity and enterprise by the example 
of "Wesley's numerous and incessant labors; other Churches 
have been excited to benevolence by Wesley's self-denying and 

226 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

boundless liberality. It was not possible for a man denying 
himself, and giving and expending all bis income, sometimes 
to the extent of £1,000 a year in works of beneficence — 
rising at four o'clock, and preaching two, three, or even four 
times a day — traveling at a time when railways were not yet 
thought of, at the rate of four or five thousand miles every 
year, and amid all these labors writing numerous books, visit- 
ing prisons and hospitals, managing the affairs of numerous 
Societies in various parts of the kingdom, and maintaining a 
correspondence extending over the world — I say it was not pos- 
sible for a man to do these things, and not exert a powerful 
influence upon thoughtful minds in other Churches. Wesley 
was, as Robert Hall quaintly said, " The quiescense of turbu- 
lence ; calm himself while setting in motion all around him." 
The Churches of Britain and America saw his wonderful 
activity, and were amazed ; they beheld the spiritual results, 
and became excited ; some to emulation, some to envy, and 
some to imitation, provoked by bis example to love and good 
works. There was life "in Methodism : lif e in its doctrines, life 
in its ministry, life in its singing, life in its prayer-meetings, 
and the spirit of life and power was in all its efforts. Other 
Churches saw this, and awoke to new life themselves, and thus 
the reflex influence of Wesley's benevolent and zealous labors 
ramified and extended in various ways, far beyond the range 
of his direct and personal efforts. 

Moreover, in the open air services held by the Wesleys and 
Whitefield for so many years, great numbers of persons of all 
ranks in society, and worshipers in all other denominations, 
were awakened and saved, whose names were never enrolled 
among the Methodists ; but who, from domestic ties and other 
influences remained in their own Churches, and there lighted 
up the fires of piety and zeal. Many persons, too, from vari- 
ous causes, left the Methodist Societies from time to time, and 
joined other Churches, and helped to leaven them with evan- 
gelical truth, and inspire them with spiritual life. These in- 

Wesley's Influence on Religion. 227 

stances were very numerous ; we cannot tabulate them, but they 
were, and even yet are, of frequent occurrence, and in their 
aggregate amount to tens of thousands ; and among them hun- 
dreds of circuit and lay preachers who became settled pastors 
over Eon-conformist congregations, or were ordained as minis- 
ters in the Established Church. Many, indeed, were driven to 
this resort by the pressure of want ; for in the early days of 
Methodism there was little or no provision made for the sup- 
port of married men and their families, and, therefore, gaunt 
privation compelled many to seek a sphere of usefulness where 
a comfortable subsistence could be found. We mention these 
facts, not in the spirit of envy or complaint, but to indicate the 
wide-spread and multifarious ways in which the vital influence 
of Methodism penetrated other Churches, and extended the 
kingdom of God. The fact is patent to all, and universally 
admitted, that with the labors of the Wesleys and their coad- 
jutors there was a waking up in the Churches which has con- 
tinued to this day. A sentiment this, sustained by the memor- 
able verdict of Sir Launcelot Shad well, delivered by him in 
the exercise of his judicial functions as the vice chancellor of 
England, and thus expressed : " It is my firm belief that to the 
Wesleyan body we are indebted for a large portion of the relig- 
ious feeling which exists among the general body of the com- 
munity, not only of this country, but throughout a great portion 
of the civilized world besides." 

The gracious revival of religion under Wesley, while giving 
a scriptural prominence to the great doctrine of justification by 
faith, separated it from the deformity of Antinomianism, and 
every species of doctrinal fatalism. It divested Christianity 
from the reproach of a limited atonement, and the terrors of 
absolute and unavoidable reprobation. It presented the Gospel 
in its virgin purity, its celestial benignity and loveliness, as it 
shone forth on the day of Pentecost and in the apostolic times 
of refreshing, when thousands in a day were added to the 

Church. True, it spared not its terrible denunciations against 

228 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

the impenitent sinner ; it thundered aloud, as from the fiery- 
summit of Sinai, the terrors of the Lord ; but it proclaimed, 
" in strains as sweet as angels use," the efficacy of a universal 
atonement, and the boundless mercy of God toward every con- 
trite soul. It discarded all the " ifs " and " buts " and " special 
reservation," by which Augustine and Calvin had fettered the 
promises, restricted the efficacy of grace, and chafed the anx- 
ious soul in its struggles for mercy. It showed the sinner there 
was no irresistible decree frowning hirn from the presence of 
his Saviour ; that the only obstacle or hinderance was in the sin- 
ner himself, and that the moment he renounced his hostile 
weapons, and placed his dependence on Christ as his Saviour, 
that moment he was justified and accepted of God. These 
gracious doctrines, with the necessity of personal holiness and 
obedience as the fruits and evidence of a living faith, were 
enforced by the ministry and exemplified in the lives of Wesley 
and his associates in the work of God. Their influence was 
soon seen in the Churches around, and still continues to be 
seen. The preaching of the Calvinistic school became greatly 
modified, and the pulpit generally began to savor more of prac- 
tical and saving truth than of stale speculations about fore- 
knowledge and absolute decrees. This change has continued 
to gain ascendency, and now high Calvinism may be regarded 
as becoming obsolete and dying out ; and the. affectionate offers 
of mercy and earnest injunctions to personal holiness have 
happily taken the place of harsh and ascetic dogmas. In this 
change we heartily rejoice, as an approximation to primitive 
Christianity, and an auspicious omen to the general interests 
of religion. 

Yet while these views of sacred truth were conscientiously 
held and strenuously maintained by John Wesley, he was no 
harsh dogmatist, no exclusive bigot. He held the truth in 
love. His heart, his hand, and his purse were open to men 
of all creeds and professions; and had he been alive at this 
day he would have rejoiced in the growing unity of the 

Wesley's Influence on Religion. 229 

Churches, as his writings and his life were consecrated to its 

Many useful and invaluable institutions, essential, almost, to 
the universal diffusion of the gospel and the completion of the 
triumph over ignorance and sin, date their origin in the re- 
vival of religion under Wesley and Whitefield ; and some of 
them may be traced directly to Methodistic agency. 

Sunday-Schools. — It is a common opinion that these heaven- 
blest institutions owe their origin to Robert Raikes, of Glou- 
cester. All honor to his name for his pious and philanthropic 
labors ; but, in truth, he was not the originator of Sabbath- 
schools. Bishop Stevens, in his " History of Georgia," tells us 
that John Wesley had a Sabbath-school at Savannah during 
the time that he was minister there ; and that was about forty- 
five years before the project was conceived by Robert Raikes. 
But apart from this, Sabbath-schools in England owe their or- 
igin to Methodism. The late. Rev Thomas Jackson shows, in 
his " Memoir of Hannah Ball," a pious Methodist at Wycombe, 
that this young woman established a Sunday-school in that 
place in 1769, and was honored as the instrument in training 
many children there in the knowledge of God's holy word. 
This good work commenced, therefore, twelve years before the 
benevolent enterprise of Robert Raikes. This fact was proba- 
bly unknown to him ; but even so, the very idea of the Sab- 
bath-school was suggested to his mind by Sophia Cooke, another 
young Methodist — the lady who afterward became the wife of 
the celebrated Samuel Bradburn. When the benevolent citi- 
zen of Gloucester was lamenting the prevalence of Sabbath 
desecration by the young savages of that town, and seriously 
asked what could be done for their reformation, Sophia Cooke 
meekly but wisely suggested, "Let them be gathered. together 
on the Lord's day and taught to read the Scriptures, and taken 
to the house of God." This suggestion being approved and 
adopted, the same young lady assisted Raikes in the organization 
of his school, and walked along with the philanthropist and his 

230 The Wesley Memokial Volume. 

ragged urchins the first time they attended the church. John 
"Wesley wrote to Kobert Eaikes a letter encouraging him in his 
good work ; and by articles in his own magazine, and by letters 
to his preachers, he promoted the adoption of Sunday-schools 
in his own denomination, observing at the time, as if prophetic 
of their future growth and importance, " I find these schools 
springing up wherever I go ; who knows but some of these 
schools may be nurseries for Christians." Nurseries, in- 
deed, they have been, and still are, for the Churches. From 
them the Churches have been replenished with hundreds 
of thousands, perhaps millions, of members ; and among them 
not a few of her brightest luminaries, her ablest ministers, her 
most enterprising and useful missionaries and their wives. 

It is impossible to tabulate the glorious results of these 
heaven-born institutions ; but I find that several years ago the 
number of Sunday scholars connected with Methodism was 
computed by the Rev. Luke Wiseman at " three millions and 
nearly five hundred thousand," which we have reason to regard 
as a very moderate estimate at that time ; but since then the 
number must have increased to four millions as connected with 
Methodism, while not less than six millions of Sunday scholars 
are under the care of other Christian denominations. 

How many of these children and young people are annually 
brought to the enjoyment of salvation cannot be accurately 
given ; but from some statistics collected by the Sunday-school 
Union in England, and published in the report of 1875, we 
have ground for believing that the aggregate result of the 
labors of pious Sabbath-school teachers must, indeed, be very 
great. In that report it is stated that of the schools in the Un- 
ion eighty-four per cent, of the teachers were formerly Sunday 
scholars ; that eighty per cent, of the teachers are members of 
Churches ; and that 13,248 of the scholars had that year be- 
come united with the respective Churches. But, of course, the 
report of the Sunday-school Union refers to those schools only 
which are identified with the Union, and these are but a frac- 

Wesley's Influence on Keligion. 231 

tion of the whole.* Yet these facts may be taken as a fair 
sample of the results of Sabbath-school instruction generally, 
certainly not as an exaggeration, especially as the work of the 
Sunday-school teacher is now become more spiritual in its char- 
acter, and the aim of the Christian teachers more directly 
turned to the salvation of the scholars under their care. How 
many thousands of Sunday scholars may we now hope are con- 
verted to God in one year in the aggregate number of Sunday- 
schools throughout the world ? And how many tens of thou- 
sands, yea, hundreds of thousands, have been converted during 
the hundred years since Hannah Ball, the young Methodist, 
opened her school at Wycombe ? And how many have been 
transplanted from the garden of the Church on earth to flour- 
ish forever in the paradise of God above ? Here the pious im- 
agination may luxuriate ; here may gratitude raise her voice in 
exultant praise ! 

Schools and Colleges. — Sunday-schools, however, were 
but one means out of many which Wesley employed to pro- 
mote the great work of education. In the very year when he 
shook off his prejudice against open-air preaching, and betook 
himself to the great temple of nature, Wesley and Whitefield 
united in founding the first Methodist seminary ; and the 
very neighborhood, too, where the voice of the revivalist 
preacher was first heard in the open air was the spot where 
their first school was erected, Whitefield laying the corner- 
stone of Kingswood School, and Wesley finding the funds for 
its erection and maintenance. At the very first Conference 
which Wesley held, (1744,) the question was formally pro- 
posed, " Can we have a seminary for laborers ? " This shows 
what was in Wesley's heart for men and ministers as well as 
youths ; but means were wanting, then, or the claims of other 
objects were more cogent at the moment. But in subse- 

* The entire number reported as belonging to the [English] Sunday-school Union 
in 18*75 is thus stated: Schools, 4,145; teachers, 98,904; scholars, SW^S ; not, 
one tenth of the whole number in the world. 

232 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

quent Conferences the question was resumed again and again, 
and though not realized at the time, the thought lived in "Wes- 
ley and his successors, and was ultimately carried into effect 
by the establishment of those numerous and important schools 
and colleges, in England and America, and in their mission 
Conferences, which are a high honor to the liberality and 
intellectual culture of the great Methodist family. Thus the 
revival of religion was the revival of education, and they both 
advanced together hand in hand. 

Tract Societies. — The Religious Tract Society of London 
is a noble institution ; it is one of the glories of the age. It 
sows divine truth broadcast over the earth, at the rate of 
200,000 religious tracts and books every working day in the 
week, or 60,000,000 every year ; and since its origin, in 1799, 
it has sent forth silent messengers of truth and mercy to the 
extent of 1,600,000,000 of copies. 

It may not, however, be generally known that this institu- 
tion is one of the outgrowths of the wonderful revival and 
diffusion of earnest religion produced under God by the labors 
of Wesley, Whitefield, and their zealous coadjutors. Yet so 
it was. Wesley, indeed, had written, published, and circulated 
numerous tracts, and 'even organized a " Tract Society" a 
number of years before the great society in Paternoster Row 
was conceived. Only four years after Wesley had experienced 
the great spiritual change, he began his career as a writer and 
distributor of religious tracts ; for in the year 1762 we find he 
had already written and distributed by thousands, tracts en- 
titled, "A Word to the Smuggler," "A Word to the Sabbath- 
breaker," "A Word to the Drunkard," "A Word to the 
Swearer," " A Word to the Street-walker," " A Word to the 
Malefactor." And these tracts he distributed himself, and 
supplied them to his preachers that they might scatter them 
broadcast wherever they could do so to the probable good of 
the recipients. In 1745 we find him rejoicing that his efforts 
were inducing others to adopt the same mode of usefulness ; 

Wesley's Influence on Religion. 233 

for he writes, " It pleased God to provoke others to jealousy, 
insomuch that the Lord Mayor had ordered a large quantity 
of papers dissuading from cursing and swearing to be printed 
and distributed to the train-bands. And on this day, " An 
Earnest Exhortation to Repentance," was given away at every 
church door in or near London to every person who came out, 
and one left at the house of every householder who was absent 
from church. I doubt not God gave a blessing therewith." 
This was tract distribution by wholesale, the effect, evidently, 
of "Wesley's example. 

Wesley did more than this. He saw in such a work the im- 
portance of organization, of general sympathy and co-operation, 
and, therefore, he issued a prospectus and formed U A Religious 
Tract Society " to distribute tracts among the poor. He laid 
down only three simple rules, but a list of thirty tracts was 
proposed, already written. or published by himself as a begin- 
ning, and the proposal concludes with these characteristic 
words : " I cannot but earnestly recommend this to all those 
who desire to see scriptural Christianity spread through these 
nations. Men wholly unawakened will not take pains to read 
the Bible. They have no relish for it. But a small tract may 
engage their attention for half an hour ; and may, by the bless- 
ing of God, prepare them for going forward." 

Here, then, was the organization of a " Religious Tract So- 
ciety." designed, as Wesley himself states, for " these nations" 
and based upon the most broad, catholic principles ; and this 
Society was in existence and operation seventeen years before 
the Religious Tract Society of Paternoster Row was organized. 
Yet, strange to say, in the " Jubilee Yolume of the Religious 
Tract Society " of Paternoster Row, the efforts of John Wes- 
ley are not once named ! On reading that official volume some 
time ago I was amazed to find that though the isolated efforts 
of some others are made prominent, the extensive labors of 
John Wesley in this department of usefulness are unnoticed, 
and the Religious Tract Society he organized is not even 

234 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

named. This strange omission must, we think, have been tlif. 
result not of design, but of the absence of information. But 
though unnoticed or unknown by Mr. Jones, the author of the 
above work, there can be no doubt that great institution which 
is blessing the world every week with more than a million of 
religious tracts and books, is the legitimate offspring of Wes- 
ley's labors and of his influential efforts in the same line of 
usefulness. It is gratifying to know, that although the Relig- 
ious Tract Society established by John "Wesley does not now 
exist in its original form, its successor lives in vigor and pros- 
perity at the Wesleyan Book-Room, in City Road, London, 
having 1,250 distinct and separate publications in 1871, and 
issuing in one year (1867) not fewer than 1,570,000 tracts, all 
printed and published by itself. 

Books and Periodicals. — While Wesley was the origin- 
ator of a Religious Tract Society, he was at the same time 
the active promoter of general knowledge. In 1749 we find 
evidence that he had previously published volumes as well 
as tracts, and now he began to issue his " Christian Library," 
in fifty volumes, embracing all sorts of valuable knowledge, 
but expurgated from the mixture of all sentiments that might 
be detrimental to sacred truth. In the year 1777 he began 
to publish the "Arminian Magazine," which he edited him- 
self until his death. His preachers were his colporteurs, for 
every circuit was to be supplied with books by the " assistant," 
or superintendent preacher; and thus the press was made a 
powerful auxiliary to the living voice in diffusing knowledge, 
defending truth, and promoting the spread of religion. All 
that Wesley did, and all he said, echoed the voice of God, 
" Let there be light." He was a foe to ignorance, because he 
was the friend and the messenger of truth ; and to render his 
wholesome literature accessible to the poor, he sold his publi- 
cations as cheap as possible, and where means were wanting 
to purchase he was ever ready to give his publications without 

Wesley's Influence on Keligion. 235 

Bible Societies. — The British and Foreign Bible Society, 
formed in the year 1804, is, without doubt, the grandest 
institution in the world. Yet it was not the first organiza- 
tion to dispense the written word. It was preceded by the 
Naval and Military Bible Society, formed twenty-five years 
before. But both these institutions originated in the great 
religious movement of the age — one, indeed, directly from 
Methodist agency, and the other from Methodistic influ- 
ence. The venerable Thomas Jackson refers to this fact 
in his " Centenary of Methodism," and the Rev. Luke Tyer- 
man in his copious " Life and Times of Wesley," gives us the 
following interesting account of the origin of the first Bible 
Society in the world. He says, in vol iii, page 314 : " The 
first Bible Society founded in Great Britain, and perhaps in 
the world, was established in 1779, and was the work of Meth- 
odists. George Cussons and John Davies, after leaving the 
Leaders' meeting in West-street Chapel, entered into conversa- 
tion, and when near Soho Square, formed a resolution to 
endeavor to raise a fund for supplying soldiers with pocket 
Bibles. They and a dozen of their friends united themselves 
into a Society for promoting this object. Their meetings were 
held once a month in the house of Mr. Dobson, of Oxford- 
street. John Thornton, Esq., of Clapham, became a generous 
subscriber. The first parcel of Bibles was sent from the vestry 
of Wesley's West-street Chapel ; and the first sermon on behalf 
of the Society was preached in the same chapel by the Rev. 
Mr. Collins, from the appropriate words, ' And the Philistines 
were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And 
they said, Woe unto us, for there hath not been such a thing 
heretofore.' Thus arose the Naval and Military Bible 

This institution, which still exists as a distinct organization, 
was the precursor by twenty-five years of the great Bible So- 
ciety for the world ; and both sprang from the same cause — 
that craving for Bible truth which the revival of religion had 

236 The -Wesley Memorial Volume. 

excited. There is an obvious and providential connection 
between this and kindred institutions. The gracious revival of 
experimental religion excited the benevolent principle, and 
stimulated men and women to do good ; and one form of doing 
good was, as we have already seen, giving gratuitous religious 
instruction to the young ; hence the origin of Sunday-schools. 
Sabbath-schools produced in a few years a generation of readers. 
To afford wholesome pabulum to hundreds of thousands of 
newly created readers, religious tracts and books must be sup- 
plied ; to meet the narrow means of the poor, the books must 
be supplied at a cheap rate. Hence, Wesley's tracts, and his 
Christian Library, of fifty volumes ; and hence, too, his Eelig- 
ious Tract Society, followed, as it was, seventeen years after 
by the great organization of the Tract Society in Paternoster 

But it was not possible that the religious thirst now excited 
could be wholly satisfied with human literature. There was 
the Bible, the Book of God, the fountain of all religious truth, 
and sole ground of its authority. This must be had. The 
desire became intense, and equally so the zeal of holy men to 
meet it. This desire had become so ardent among the people 
in Wales, where the circulating schools of Howell Harris and 
his zealous coadjutors had promoted education, that the Rev. 
Thomas Charles, of Bald, came to London to interest benevo- 
lent men in supplying the population of Wales with copies of 
the Holy Scriptures. A meeting of some ministers and brethren 
was called, and it was proposed to organize a Society for this 
purpose, " to supply the population of Wales with the Bible." 
Joseph Hughes, of Battersea, got up, (I fancy I see him now, 
for I knew that holy man,) and he uttered these words : " Form 
a society for Wales ! Why not form a society for the world ? " 
As if inspired by the noble sentiment, it was resolved to widen 
the basis and purpose of the society, to embrace not only the 
small principality of Wales, but the whole world. The Bible 
Society was then inaugurated, and thus we see how naturally 

"Wesley's Influence on Religion. 237 

it grew under the providence of God, from the gracious revival 
of experimental religion, to the promotion of which the Wes- 
leys and George "Whitefield had devoted their lives. Other 
holy men, especially the zealous evangelists in Wales, performed 
a worthy part, but history will ever accord the most prominent 
place to John Wesley in this great and glorious movement. 

The Bible Society has existed seventy-four years, and it has 
accomplished a work unequaled in the annals of our world. It 
has published the Book of God in nearly three hundred lan- 
guages or dialects, and, including the issues of its auxiliaries at 
home and abroad, it has circulated since its commencement, 
copies of the word of God in whole, or in portions thereof, to 
the amazing number of one hundred and thirty millions, and is 
sending them forth at the rate of five millions every year. 
Behold, what hath God wrought ! 

In the committee formed at the organization of the British 
and Foreign Bible Society we see the names of two distin- 
guished Methodists, Christopher Lundius and Joseph Butter- 
worth ; and in the third year of its existence we find the name 
of the Rev. Dr. Adam Clarke, then the president of the 
Wesleyan Conference, who, at the special request of the Bible 
Society, was appointed by the Conference to London for the 
third year, his presence being deemed indispensable to the 
work of providing the Scriptures in foreign languages. These 
facts show both the direct and indirect influence of Methodism 
in giving the Bible to the world. 

Modern Missionary Societies. — I have before me the rec- 
ord of more than forty missionary institutions for spreading 
the gospel at home and abroad, all of which have risen since 
1790, and to these a large number of kindred institutions may 
be added ; and though some of these have no nominal connec- 
tion with Methodism, they all, doubtless, originated in that 
religious awakening which Wesley, Whitefield, and their asso- 
ciates in labor and prayer, so extensively promoted. For, in- 
deed, Methodism itself is one great collection of missionary 

238 The "Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

organizations. "When Wesley found the churches closed against 
him he said, " The world is my parish ; " and henceforth knew 
no more ecclesiastical restraints. The great commission to the 
apostle was " Go ; " here is " itinerancy ; " and "Wesley and his 
preachers went forth ; they traveled. The great commission 
said, " Go into all the world ; " and hence no more parochial 
limitations for Wesley. The great commission said, " Preach 
the gospel to every creature ; " and hence the outlying masses 
must be reached ; and if they will not come to the gospel the 
gospel must be carried to them ; and hence the open-air aggres- 
sions, and the ministry exercised in barns, cottages, fairs, mar- 
ket-squares, and in all places where neglected humanity could 
be found. Here was missionary life and effort in the very soul 
and essence of Methodism! Lay preachers rose up at first in 
units, then in tens, then in hundreds, and ere long in thou- 
sands. Here was the revival of an obsolete but a primitive 
mode of diffusing the gospel. Men speaking for Christ in 
homely phrase, but in living earnestness, because the love of 
Christ and the love of souls constrained them. Without ordi- 
nation and without ecclesiastical authority, except that which 
Christ himself imparted and inspired ; and here were missiona- 
ries ready at once for the work required. This formed no part 
of Wesley's plan ; for, indeed, he had no plan but that of fol- 
lowing wherever God's providence and Spirit might lead. It 
led him to this in spite of his former prejudices ; for it grew 
out of the spiritual life of Methodism as naturally and sponta- 
neously as the tree grows from the vitality and energy of the 

Hence the missions of Methodism to distant lands and for- 
eign climes rose without any organization,* for, indeed, the 
organization came not until the mission work had gained a 

* January, 1784 — eight years before the Baptist Missionary Society, twelve 
years before the London Missionary Society, and sixteen years before the Church 
Missionary Society— Dr. Thomas Coke and Thomas Parker organized a Foreign 
Missionary Society, and published " A Plan of the Society for the Establishment of 
Missions among the Heathens." — Editor. 

Wesley's Influence on Religion. 239 

footing in various parts of the world. Thus, twenty-six years 
before Dr. Coke went to the "West Indies, a negress and her 
master, Nathaniel Gilbert, had introduced Methodism into 
Antigua, (West Indies.) This beginning, followed up by the 
labors of John Baxter, a ship carpenter, had resulted in a Soci- 
ety of 1,569 members, and the converted negroes themselves 
had built a chapel from their own earnings. Hence it was 
the work of Dr. Coke not to originate but to extend the 
mission, which had spontaneously grown up from lay agency 
in the West Indies. It was the same in the United States of 

Philip Embury, an Irish emigrant, excited to his duty by 
the zeal of Barbara Heck, had commenced preaching in his 
own house, and formed a Methodist Society in New York in 
^766 ; and soon after Captain Webb, arriving in New York, 
preached to the people in his uniform ; and when, three years 
after, in 1769, the Conference in England sent Bichard Board- 
man and Joseph Pilmoor, they found already a Society of 100 
members and a place of worship that contained 1,700 people ; 
but as only one third of the hearers could get in, the other two 
thirds had to listen outside the building as well as they could. 

Here, again, the work of missions had sprung up without 
human organization, just as the primitive missions sprang up 
in Cesarea, in Cyprus, in Antioch, etc., in apostolic times. It 
was to assist this infant mission Church in New York that the 
first missionary collection was made at the Conference of 1769. 
It was much the same in Canada, Nova Scotia, and many other 
parts of America. We cannot, for want of space, narrate the 
facts, though they are of thrilling interest, showing the vital 
power, the spontaneous development, of Methodism. Suffice 
it to say that Methodism, thus planted in America, continued to 
spread in every part of the great republic under the apostolic 
labors of Francis Asbury, whose incessant activity emulated 
the enterprise of Wesley, and the burning fervor of John Nel- 
son and Thomas Walsh. No labors could exhaust, no difficul- 

240 The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 

ties could conquer, the energy of that devoted man. He 
forded rivers, he penetrated forests, he tracked the footsteps 
of the hardy emigrant to the uttermost settlement, and carried 
the gospel to the remotest bounds of civilization. He was, in- 
deed, a bishop of the primitive type, in labors abundant, in 
perils oft : and amid his incessant and arduous toils, by night 
as well as by day, carrying with him the care of all the 
Churches of his ever-widening episcopate. His contempora- 
ries labored with corresponding zeal and self-denial. His suc- 
cessors have carried on the great work transmitted to their 
hands, and copious showers of blessings have been poured upon 
their Churches. 

Methodism, taken in the aggregate, occupies no small 
space on the surface of the globe. Born of missionary 
zeal, all the sections of Methodism are actuated by th^ 
missionary spirit, and employ their wealth, their influence, 
and some of their best men as missionaries in spreading the 
gospel both at home and in various parts of the heathen 
world. Looking at the facts before us, we cannot but regard 
Methodism as a great missionary institution, putting forth its 
own energies for the conversion of the world, and by its spirit, 
its efforts, and its example, kindling the fire in other Churches, 
and becoming by moral influence, the main cause, under God, 
of the wonderful revival of missionary zeal in the several 
denominations which have, within the last sixty years, waked 
up to the duty of doing their part in evangelizing the nations 
of the earth. " Methodism," said the eloquent Dr. Chalmers, 
" is Christianity in earnest." Yes, and one part of its mission 
was and is to arouse other Churches to earnestness. As the 
Eev. Dr. Dobbin, though a Churchman, and of the Dublin 
University, writes, when referring to the origin of Methodism 
and its powerful influence on Christendom : " Never was 
there such a scene before in the British Islands ; there were 
no Bible, tract, or missionary societies before to employ the 
Church's powers, and indicate its path of duty; but Wesley 

Wesley's Influence on Religion. 241 

started them all. The Church and the world were alike 
asleep ; he sounded the trumpet and awoke the Church to 
work." The venerable Perronet had the same feeling in 
his day, while "Wesley was alive ; for when looking around on 
the wonderful effects of Methodism, he wrote these remark- 
able words : " I make no doubt that Methodism is designed by 
Providence to introduce the approaching millennium." A 
sentiment which the subsequent development and influence of 
Methodism has served to illustrate and confirm. 

Lay-preaching. — To lay-preaching, to which we have re- 
ferred, we must be allowed to give a more extended notice. 
When introduced by Wesley it was viewed by a slumbering 
Church as " a startling novelty" and pronounced " an astound- 
ing irregularity /" but soon as she awoke, and rubbed her 
eyes, she saw that instead of being " a startling novelty," 
it was the revival of a practice as old as Christianity itself ; 
and instead of being "an astounding irregularity," it had 
primitive example for its precedent and apostolic .sanction for 
its authority. When the disciples "were scattered abroad," 
they "went every-where preaching the Avord" — in "Phenice, 
and Cyprus, and Antioch ; " and instead of this effort of 
spontaneous zeal being rebuked, "the hand* of the Lord was 
with them : and a great number believed, and turned unto 
the Lord." And while the Church retained her vital en- 
ergy and aggressive power, the practice of lay-preaching 
was continued ; for we find in the early part of the third 
century,. Origen, while unordained, went from Egypt to Pal- 
estine to preach in the churches ; and Alexander, the Bishop 
of Jerusalem, and the Bishop of Cesarea, in a joint letter to 
the Bishop of Alexandria, justify the practice, saying, " Wher- 
ever any are found who are fit to profit the brethren, the holy 
bishops of their own accord ask them to preach unto the 
people." Hence, " the astounding irregularity " lay not in 
adopting, but in so long neglecting, the primitive and di- 
vinely sanctioned practice of lay-preaching. It was divinely 

242 The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 

sanctioned now in the abundant blessing which rested upon 
Wesley's humble workers, and through their agency the gospel 
was carried to hundreds of benighted villages and towns which 
the regularly ordained ministers could not reach; and thus 
was created a rich and abundant source from which, ever 
since, the regular itinerant ministry has been supplied. Other 
Churches saw the practice and the blessing resting upon it, 
and it seemed like a new revelation dawning upon them. 
Henceforth a lay agency was adopted, and this augmented 
power imparted new energy and efficiency to the Christian 
world. Many Churches, once stiffened with ecclesiastical 
starch, and muffled with sacerdotal vestments, have been given 
to see that Christianity, to fulfill her mission, must awake and 
put on strength ; must shake herself from the dust, and loose 
the bands from her neck, and go forth untrammeled and work 
with elastic freedom, employing all the resources of her power 
and her people to save mankind. Thus Methodism not only 
awoke religion from her tomb, but burst the bandages by 
which she had been trammeled and restrained, and bade her go 
free to bless the nations of the earth. We have not space to 
do justice to a subject so copious, so diversified, so rich in facts 
of interest, and facts increasing in number as years roll on. 

Slavery and the Slave-tkade. — Slavery is now become 
extinct not only in the British dominions but also in America; 
but who knows how much the well-known sentiments of Wes- 
ley have influenced public opinion on this subject? At the 
time when Whitefield was the advocate of slavery and the 
owner of fifty slaves, and when John Newton — afterward 
rector of St. Mary's, Woolnoth, London^-was engaged in the 
African slave-trade, John Wesley was denouncing slavery, and 
in 1774 he published a tract of fifty-three octavo pages against 
it. In the very year that Wesley's utterance was pronounced, 
Granville Sharpe began to advocate in public the cause of 
freedom. Fifteen years after the society was formed for 
" The Suppression of the Slave-trade," Wesley's tract was re- 

Wesley's Influence on Keligion. 243 

published in Philadelphia, and the agitation was continued 
until England paid down the sum of £20,000,000 sterling for 
the freedom of the slave. The same feeling grew in Amer- 
ica until slavery was abolished, and Churches for a time alien- 
ated met and embraced each other in fraternal sympathy and 

Sacked Lyric Poetey. — In noticing the influence of Meth- 
odism on the Churches it would be inexcusable not to advert 
to its poetry. The Holy Spirit which actuated John Wes- 
ley to revive true experimental religion inspired Charles 
Wesley to give it expression in poetic numbers. Methodism 
required just such hymns as Charles and John Wesley com- 
posed. Its psalmody must harmonize with its earnest spirit 
and give it vocal utterance. Its doctrines of free grace, uni- 
versal redemption, justifying faith, the Holy Spirit's witness, 
and entire sanctification ; its intimate and holy fellowship ; 
its clear apprehensions of duty ; its sublime morality, and its 
intense missionary ardor, required to be embodied in sacred 
song for the purpose of public worship, and of family and 
3loset devotion. But where was poetry to be found to ex- 
press the animus of the Methodist body ? Evangelical as 
ire the sentiments, refined and elegant as the diction and 
the rhythm, of Watts, Doddridge, Cowper, Newton, and 
Dthers — we acknowledge we enjoy and admire many of 
the hymns of the honored men we have named — I know 
of no collection of hymns, ancient or modern, but one, 
which can fully utter the doctrinal sentiments and the vig- 
orous pulsations of the Methodistic heart, and that collection 
is the Hymn Book composed and compiled by John and 
Charles Wesley. In the category of our blessings, the Wes- 
leyan Hymn Book must be reckoned one of unspeakable im- 
portance and value. Besides its high qualities in poetic com- 
position, it is a vehicle through which truth is conveyed, and a 
means by which it is conserved. It comprises a body of the 

soundest theology, the richest experience, and the sublimest 

244 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

morality. Its absence would have left a vacuum in our 
privileges which no other book of poems could supply. God 
saw it was needed and he supplied the need by the sanctified 
genius of the Wesleys ; and what has been so great a blessing 
in fostering the piety of Methodism has fed the flame of re- 
ligion in other denominations ; and hence, of late years, the 
copious use which other Churches are making of our excellent 

I cannot better conclude Wesley's Influence on the Religion 
of the World than in the following sweetly flowing lines of 
Charles Wesley : — 

Our conquering Lord 

Hath prospered his word, 

Hath made it prevail ; 
And mightily shaken the kingdom of hell. 

His arm he hath bared, 

And a people prepared 

His glory to show ; 
And witness the power of his passion below. 

His Spirit revives 

His work in our lives, 

His wonders of grace, 
So mightily wrought in the primitive days. 

O that all men might know 

His tokens below, 

Our Saviour confess, 
And embrace the glad tidings of pardon and peace. 

Thou Saviour of all 

Effectually call 

The sinners that stray : 
And, O, let a nation be born in a day ! 

Then, then let it spread, 

Thy knowledge and dread, 

Till the earth is o'erflowed, 
And the universe filled with the glory of God. 



TT7HEN Methodism is examined in the light afforded by 
m the experience of over one hundred and forty years, 
it presents a record of events which is both interesting and 

That one out of a number of students at a famous university 
should be noted for his learning, or for piety, is not at all ex- 
traordinary ; but that such a one, in modern times, fired with 
no mere worldly ambition, and with no desire to make for him- 
self a great name, but whose heart, instead, was filled with zeal 
for the cause of God and compassion for the ignorant and sin- 
ful — that such a one should, in the providence of God, become 
the founder of a great Church, which, in less than a century 
and a half should number its membership by millions, is not 
only astonishing, but is without a parallel in history. 

Such a man was John Wesley. Such a Church is Method- 
ism in its various branches. 

It is not my present purpose to review the individual polity 
of each of the various branches of Methodism, nor to trace 
minutely every phase of the polity bequeathed to the Church 
by Mr. Wesley, as it was developed by him or was forced upon 
him by circumstances, but simply to outline some of the more 
important features of his matured polity, and to show how 
closely the man was identified with his measures. 

When Mr. Wesley, while yet a student, began to visit the 
prisons in order to benefit the inmates, or later still, as a 
clergyman of the Established Church, continued his ministra- 
tions to the poor and the distressed, he had no idea of the re- 
sults which were to follow his disinterested labors. His design 
was to reform men and lead them to Christ, but in doing this 

246 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

he expected to retain them in the Church of England, not to 
found a new body. 

But as time passed the work grew upon him, and he was 
forced to depart from the beaten track which usage sanctioned 
in the clergymen of the day, or leave those whom he had been 
the means of rescuing from lives of sin to again become the 
prey of the arch enemy, and perish after all. Nearly every- 
where he went the newly-awakened people thronged about 
him, seeking instruction in spiritual things, and he realized 
that some systematic method must be adopted by which it 
could be supplied. Hence, in 1739, he formed the first of his 
" United Societies." This was the germ whence the Church 
sprung. Those who had desired to ridicule the whole move- 
ment had termed Mr. "Wesley and his followers " Methodists," 
and they wisely accepted the name. 

The Societies increased in numbers, and subsequently Mr. 
Wesley divided them into " smaller companies called classes." 
The division into classes was at first designed only as a finan- 
cial arrangement, funds being needed to liquidate a debt which 
rested on a place of worship. The class consisted of about 
twelve persons, one of whom was appointed leader. This per- 
son had the oversight of the class, and to him, at first, were the 
contributions paid. Close .inspection of the classes, joined to 
the reports of some of his leaders, convinced Mr. "Wesley that 
these classes might be made conducive to spiritual growth, 
which was of more importance than the financial aid which 
they rendered, though both were essential to the well-being of 
the Societies, and accordingly he incorporated them into his 
system of government designed for the Societies. Indeed, it 
is at this point that Mr. "Wesley may be said to have com- 
menced to develop his Church polity ; while yet he was far 
from contemplating a separation of any of the Societies from 
the Established Church. That idea came later, when circum- 
stances forced him to adopt it. 

For four years he regulated and governed the Societies by 

"Wesley and Chttbch Polity. 247 

the aid of his helpers and class-leaders, without any general 
written law ; but in 1743 the " General Rules " were drawn up 
and promulgated as the constitution by which the United So- 
cieties were to be governed. In this incomparable code — in- 
comparable contrasted with other human codes — we readily 
perceive the sagacity and foresight of the compiler. These 
rules bear to Methodism to-day the same relation that the 
magna charta does to Englishmen. 

Only one condition was required of all who desired admis- 
sion into the Societies, namely, "A desire to flee from the 
wrath to come, and to be saved from their sins;" but they 
were expected to evidence this desire by their subsequent walk 
and conversation. To guard, however, against the admission 
of improper persons into the Societies, who might, by disor- 
derly conduct, bring the cause into disrepute, he adopted the 
probationary system. 

The term of- probation was first — it is stated by some au- 
thorities — two months ; afterward it was lengthened to three 
months, and finally to six months. 

"Whatever views may be taken of the matter now, and there 
are many able men who contend both for and against the 
continuance of the probationary system, it certainly was an 
advantage both to the Societies and to those seeking admission 
to them in the commencement. It was a public guarantee on 
the one hand of the desire of the "Wesleys to keep the So- 
cieties pure, and on the other, while admitting seekers of 
salvation to the religious privileges of the Societies, it gave 
them opportunity to examine carefully the doctrines taught by 
the Methodists and their usages. Then, if any were unwilling 
to subscribe to the one or conform to the other, they were at 
liberty to leave the Society without assigning a reason why they 
did so ; and, per contra, if any were disorderly in their walk, 
the leader might, after trying to bring them to a better state 
of mind, refuse to recommend that they should get their ticket 
of membership, when they were quietly dropped without the 

248 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

annoyance of expulsion. At the expiration of the six months, 
the conditions of the probation being fulfilled, namely, a 
regular attendance at class-meeting, leading a godly life, etc., 
etc., the probationer received his ticket, which constituted him 
a member of the Society. 

As the Societies multiplied, and Mr. Wesley's assistants and 
helpers increased in numbers, it became necessary that he and 
his helpers should consult concerning the state of the work 
from time to time ; so another advance was made, and the 
Church polity developed one step further. The earlier of 
these consultations were styled " Conversations." Subse- 
quently the term Conference came to be applied to them. 
The general rules were admirably adapted to the regulation of 
the Societies, with their officiary, the stewards and leaders ; but 
now it was necessary that the work of the preachers, Mr. Wes- 
ley's helpers, should be regulated also. Care must be taken 
as to what doctrine was taught by these men, because for it 
all, whether for good or ill, the world would hold Mr. Wesley 
responsible. And that there might be no confusion or 
clashing of interest the work of all must be systematically 
arranged. Considered numerically, these earlier Conferences 
were small indeed, but there was a large amount of effective 
work done by them notwithstanding. 

As the founder of the body, Mr. Wesley's authority was, of 
course, supreme, both as to doctrine and usage; but he was 
also accorded that authority by the common consent of his 
people : and, under the circumstances, it was best that supreme 
authority should center in him. Discussing this question, Mr. 
Watson remarks: "Few men, it is true, have had so much 
power ; but, on the other hand, he could not have retained it 
in a perfectly voluntary society had he not used it mildly and 
wisely, and with a perfectly disinterested and public spirit." 

Referring to the same subject Mr. Wesley thus expresses 
himself : " What is that power ? It is a power of admitting 
into, and excluding from, the societies under my care; of 

Wesley and Chuech Polity. 249 

choosing and removing stewards ; of receiving or not re- 
ceiving helpers ; of appointing them when, where, and how to 
help me, and of desiring any of them to confer with me when 
I see good. And as it was merely in obedience to the provi- 
dence of God and for the good of the people that I at first 
accepted this power, which I never sought, so it is on the same 
consideration, not for profit, honor, or pleasure, that I use it 
at this day. I did not seek any part of it. But when it 

was come unawares, not daring to bury that talent, I used it to 
the best of my judgment. Yet I was never fond of it ; I 
always did, and do now, bear it as my burden, the burden 
which God lays upon me ; and, therefore, I dare not lay it 

He inaugurated the itinerant system, and managed it so 
admirably that it became incorporated into the general polity. 

After the long and somewhat acrimonious controversy which 
had been carried on between the Methodists and their oppo- 
nents concerning Calvinism had subsided, Mr. Wesley became 
more than ever solicitous about a settled polity for the So- 
cieties. Every year the necessity for devising some more 
systematic plan than had yet been arranged became more and 
more apparent. As early as 1745 the question of Church 
polity had been discussed at length, at the second yearly Con- 
ference, and every subsequent year had added its quota of 
light gained by experience. Mr. Wesley was a Churchman, 
warmly attached to the traditions of his Church ; but in this 
matter he felt that he must go as Providence seemed to direct. 

In 1746 he read very carefully Lord King's account of the 
"Primitive Church," which convinced him that the unbroken 
apostolic succession was a fable — a mere assumption which had 
not been proved, and which did not, in fact, admit of proof : 
and this conviction helped to loosen the hold which the 
churchly tradition had hitherto kept upon his mind. Little 
by little, as the years rolled on and the exigencies of the case 
demanded it, his mental vision was widened and strengthened 

250 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

to meet that demand, until at length he took such an advanced 
position that his brother Charles joined issue with him in a 
very strong remonstrance. 

In his solicitude for the welfare of the Societies and theii 
establishment upon a permanent basis, Mr. Wesley urged Mr. 
Fletcher to assume, or at least to share, his responsibility ; but 
Mr. Fletcher declined to do either. Mr. Wesley was in a 
strait ; but time, and the precarious tenure by which the Socie- 
ties held their property, which would be jeopardized in the 
event of his death if not properly secured before, demanded 
prompt and definite action. The Rubicon had long been 
crossed ; there could be no recrossing now. Strictly speaking, 
it had been crossed by the organization of that first Society in 
London in 1739. The work must now be consolidated, or 
more than forty years' labor would be lost. 

But it was not the Societies in Britain alone that were urg-, 
ing him to give them, once for all, a complete and definite 
polity, which would prevent disintegration when he was gone ; 
the Societies in America were also calling imperatively for 
prompt and effectual measures which would establish the 
Church there upon a permanent basis. In America prompt 
action was more especially urgent because of exigencies which 
had arisen as a consequence of the Revolutionary War. 

Hitherto the Methodists in America had received the ordi- 
nances of the Church at the hands of the parish ministers, as 
they had done in Britain ; but in the disordered state of affairs 
in the Republic, immediately succeeding the war, this was im- 
possible. Few, if any, of the old-time clergy were to be found 
in the land ; all, or nearly all, having returned to Europe with 
the British, as every vestige of Church and State had been 
swept away in the political changes effected at the time. 

Mr. Wesley fully realized the difficulties which beset his 
path, but it had not been the habit of his long life to turn 
aside from the performance of duty because difficulties were 
in the way. When any were to be encountered he met them 

Wesley and Chuech Polity. 251 

squarely, and, if possible, overcame them. If it were found to 
be impossible to overcome them, he did what he deemed best 
under the circumstances, and in this spirit he proceeded to com- 
plete the work of the organization of the Methodist Church. 

In England he was trammeled by Church and State connec- 
tions. In America that difficulty had been removed. He had 
to plan for the permanent establishment of the Church in both 
countries, under different conditions, and, in the matter of the 
American Church his brother Charles opposed him strongly. 
After careful consideration and earnest prayer for guidance, 
having decided what he thought to be best for all concerned, 
he proceeded, in 1784, to carry out the measures decided upon. 
'That his death might not seriously affect the Societies in 
Britain in a legal point of view, he had what is known as the 
" Deed of Declaration " drawn up and enrolled in chancery. 
In this deed he named one hundred preachers as the legal Con- 
ference, and made the term " Conference " also a legal one. 
By this document, also, the " Legal Hundred " were constituted 
a governing body, invested with power and authority which 
had hitherto rested with Mr. "Wesley only. It also provided 
for the election of a president and secretary annually, and for 
the filling up of vacancies which would occur from death or 
other causes ; but did not make any provision for the ordina- 
tion of preachers, or authorize them to administer the sacra- 
ments of baptism or the Lord's supper. 

It was not till years after Mr. Wesley's death that the En- 
glish preachers began to administer the ordinances, nor then till 
after a long and unpleasant controversy had ensued upon the 

It should here be remarked, however, that in 1789 Mr. Wes- 
ley did ordain Mr. Alexander Mather general superintendent, 
and Messrs. Rankin and Moore elders. " These," Mr. Pawson, 
one of the early presidents of the English Conference, says, 
"he (Mr. Wesley) undoubtedly designed should ordain the 

252 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

Such, then, briefly outlined, was the polity given to the 
Methodist Societies in Britain. In America it differed some- 
what. Here, as has been said, he was untrammeled by Church 
and State connection, and was, therefore, free to carry out the 
plan of Church polity which was the result of his mature judg- 
ment. Accordingly, in September of the same year that he 
made the Deed of Declaration he ordained Dr. Coke general 
superintendent, and eight days later gave him a letter of au- 
thority to proceed to America to organize the Church there 
into a distinct body. 

Nor did Mr. Wesley act in this matter on his own unaided 
judgment, though he had weighed it well. He consulted with 
Mr. Fletcher and others concerning the advisability of the 
course he was about to pursue, and they agreed with him as to 
the necessity for action. That he had a right to or*dain men to 
the offices of the ministry in the manner he did, he maintained 
by referring to the decisions and transactions of the primitive 
Church as a precedent. Notably so by the usage of the " ancient 
Alexandrian Church, which through two hundred years pro- 
vided its bishops through ordination by its presbyters." Bishop 
and General Superintendent were synonymous terms. Mr. 
"Wesley had been greatly helped to his decisions upon the polity 
of the Church by Lord King's " Primitive Church," the care- 
ful reading of which, forty years previous to this time, has been 
before mentioned. "Dr. Coke," says Dr. Stevens, "was 
already a presbyter of the Church of England ; to what was 
he now ordained, then, by Mr. Wesley, if not to the only 
remaining office of bishop ? " 

Mr. Wesley had also summoned Mr. Eichard Whatcoat and 
Mr. Thomas Yasey to meet him in Bristol, where the ordina- 
tions took place at this time. Here, on the 1st of September, 
he ordained these brethren to the office of deacons, assisted in 
the ordination service by Bev. James Creighton and Dr. Coke, 
both presbyters of the Church of England; and the day fol- 
lowing he ordained them elders. These men, then — Dr. Coke 

Wesley and Church Polity. 25b 

as superintendent or bishop, and the Messrs. Whatcoat and 
Yasey as elders, the associates of Dr. Coke — were the persons 
commissioned by Mr. Wesley to organize the Church in Amer- 
ica, to whom he committed the well-defined polity and liturgy 
which he had prepared for it. 

Duly accredited from Mr. Wesley to the Societies in America, 
they, on the morning of September 18, 1784, set sail for the 
place of destination, which they reached after a stormy passage 
of six weeks. They landed in New York on the 3d of Novem- 
ber, and were entertained for a few days at the house of Stephen 
Sands, an influential member of the John-street Church. Surely 
it was fitting that the first Protestant bishop in the United 
States should be entertained by a member of the first Society 
organized by his co-religionists in the country. In New York 
they took such rest as the Methodist preachers of the time 
were wont to take, preaching each day or evening, till they set 
off for Philadelphia. Thence they proceeded south till they 
reached Barrett's Chapel, where Dr. Coke met Mr. Asbury, 
and made him acquainted with Mr. Wesley's plans relative to 
the polity of the Church, and his wishes concerning himself. 

Mr. Asbury had heard of the arrival of Dr. Coke and his 
colleagues, and was, therefore, partially prepared for the infor- 
mation he now received. In order to know the minds of the 
leading men among the American preachers he had called a 
council of such of them as he could collect ; and they and he 
deemed it wise to call a Conference forthwith, to meet at Bal- 
timore the following month. 

Freeborn Garrettson was the messenger sent "like an ar- 
row," says Dr. Coke, to gather the preachers for this eventful 
Conference. On the opening of the Conference Dr. Coke 
took the chair, and presented Mr. Wesley's letter dated 
September 10th, 1784, for their consideration. In this letter 
Mr. Wesley had provided for the establishment of the 
American Societies into an independent Church, with an 
episcopal form of government, which could, he argued — we 

254 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

think conclusively— be regularly organized by the officers 
whom he had appointed to do so, and had specially ordained 
for that purpose, namely, Dr. Coke and his colleagues, Messrs. 
Whatcoat and Yasey. He had cited to those who objected to 
this polity Lord King and Bishop Stillingfleet as authorities 
with whom he concurred, and had given expression to his own 
personal preference for an episcopal form of government.* 
He had not only devised this form of government, but spe- 
cifically recommended it for their adoption, and had also 
appointed Mr. Francis Asbury to be joint superintendent with 
Dr. Coke. The Conference cordially adopted Mr. Wesley's 
plan, and at once proceeded to form themselves "into an 
Episcopal Church, and to have superintendents, elders, and 

Though appointed by Mr. Wesley, Mr. Asbury declined 

* See the Minutes of Conference for 1745 and 174V, quoted by Dr. Rigg, in 
"Wesley and the Church of England" pp. 77 and 80 of this volume. Note partic- 
ularly Wesley's answers to the questions, "is Episcopal, Presbyterian, or Inde- 
pendent Church government most agreeable to reason?" and, "But are you assured 
that God designed the same plan should obtain in all Churches throughout all ages ? " 

From Mr. Wesley's answers to these questions, and others equally pertinent, it 
will be seen how liberal were his views on the whole subject of Church govern- 
ment. While Mr. Wesley had his preference, he did not believe that the New 
Testament Scriptures prescribe any one form of Church government Nor did 
Mr. Wesley prescribe any as " essential to a Christian Church." He was per- 
suaded that it was " a consequence full of shocking absurdity " to deny validity to 
" the foreign Reformed Churches," because their form of Church government is 
Presbyterian, or Independent, and not Episcopal. Hence he believed that "the 
government of the Methodist Episcopal Church of America, and even that of the 
Established Church of England, had no exclusive claim to apostolic authority. 
From his stand-point the Methodist Churches, whether Episcopal or non-Episcopal, 
are all, in form, equally apostolic. While he preferred a " National Church," he 
regarded a National Church as " a merely political institution." And while, no 
doubt, he preferred the Episcopal to any other form of Church government, he 
did not proscribe Churches whose government is either Presbyterian or Independ- 
ent. This, he thought, was a matter which each Church had the scriptural right 
to determine for itself. In answer to the question, "Must there not be numberless 
accidental varieties in the government of various Churches ? " Mr. Wesley says : 
"There must, in the nature of things; for as God variously dispenses his gifts of 
nature, providence, and grace, both the offices themselves and the officers in each ought 
to be varied from time to time.' 1 '' And because " the wisdom of God had a regard 
to this necessary variety," he concluded to be the reason why " there is no deter- 
minate plan of Church government appointed in Scripture." — Editor. 

"Wesley and Church Polity. 255 

acting as superintendent unless elected by the Conference also. 
The Conference then unanimously elected Dr. Coke and Fran- 
cis Asbury superintendents, and Mr. Asbury's ordination fol- 
lowed in due course. Perhaps no system of Church polity 
has ever been devised which is better adapted to the spreading 
of the gospel in all lands than the Methodist episcopacy is ; 
under the economy of which both pastors and societies enjoy 
mutual protection from arbitrary rule, and are favored with 
the privileges of Christian fellowship. The millions who have 
been brought to Christ through its instrumentality prove its 
power and efficiency ; and prove also the sagacity and foresight 
of Mr. Wesley in elaborating and arranging so efficient and lib- 
eral a polity. What the Methodist Episcopal Church is to-day, 
it has, like the constitution of Great Britain, grown to be through 
the storms of adversity and the suns of prosperity during the 
lapse of years. Equally removed from the assumption and 
tyranny of a hierarchy on the one hand, and from the license, 
uncertainty, and lack of central missionary force in segregated 
communities on the other ; a connectional Church sanctioned, as 
we think, by scripture, it stands, at least, a peer of the might- 
iest among the religious organizations of the age ; not boasting 
centuries of accumulated power, it is true ; but at the same 
time not burdened with centuries of excrescences and incum- 
brances. Youthful and free, preserving a pure doctrine and 
gathering a wise and holy zeal, with the blessing of God and 
under the power of the Eternal Spirit, it is, perhaps, not too 
much to say that it is — equally with the other Methodist 
Churches of Great Britain and America — the main hope of 
Protestantism for the evangelization of heathen lands. 


WHEN John Wesley was on his first visit to Charleston, he 
preached for Alexander Garden, in old St. Michael's 
Church. He noticed, with pleasure, several negroes present, 
with one of whom he had a conversation. He found her sadly 
ignorant of the first principles of religious truth. "When he 
made a second visit to Charleston he conversed with another 
negro woman, whom he found in the same sad religious state. 
As carefully as he could he taught her the way of life. ISTegro 
slavery was not then permitted in Georgia, and few were the 
negroes whom he met. But while in Savannah steps were 
taken by him, as he writes, " toward publishing the glad tid- 
ings both to the African and the American heathens." 

On his return voyage from Charleston to England, on board 
the ship in which he sailed were two negro lads, whom he in- 
structed in the principles of the Christian religion. Thus early 
did Mr. "Wesley manifest his deep interest in the welfare of 
the African race. His opposition to slavery and the slave-trade 
is well known. His powerful arguments against the latter 
largely contributed to the success of "Wilberforce. Indeed, it 
may be confidently affirmed that the abolition of the African 
slave-trade was due more to England's great Methodist reform- 
er than to England's great philanthropist. 

Little did Mr. "Wesley dream, while conversing with the ne- 
groes whom he met in America, and the negro boys whom he 
was instructing in the ship on the Atlantic, that to the negro 
race, for whom he thus early felt such tender regard, a blessing 
would flow from his life-work greater than any other unin- 
spired man has brought to the sons and daughters of Ham. 
"Without sectarian pride we may say, that the negro race has 

Wesley and the Colored Race. 257 

been, under God, more indebted to Mr. "Wesley and Methodism 
than to the combined efforts of all other Christian bodies, the 
world over. 

The space allotted to this article is too limited to allow more 
than a mere glance at the work wrought by the Methodists for 
the colored race. The facts herein presented will establish the 
truth of what has been said. 

In 1758 Nathaniel Gilbert, speaker of the General Assembly 
of Antigua, one of the West India Islands, whose family claimed 
descent from Sir Humphrey Gilbert, the great English navi- 
gator and half brother of Sir Walter Raleigh, became an ad- 
herent of Wesley while on a visit to England. Two of Mr. 
Gilbert's slaves, whom he carried with him to England, heard 
Mr. Wesley preach in their master's house at Wandsworth. 
Professing faith in Christ, they were baptized by Mr. Wesley. 
On his return to Antigua, in 1759, Mr. Gilbert began to preach 
to his negro slaves. For fifteen years he carried on the work. 
In 1774 he fell asleep in Jesus, and rested from his labors 
His end was happy and triumphant. 

After his death the Society, of about sixty members, was 
kept alive for eleven years by two faithful negresses ; and then 
Dr. Coke sent a missionary to the island. The first missionary 
to the negroes the world had ever seen was Cornelius Winter, 
a Calvinistic Methodist, whom Mr. Whitefield brought with 
him to America ; but the first successful mission among them 
was the one in Antigua, originated by Nathaniel Gilbert, a 
lay preacher and slave-holder. 

In 1758 Mr. Wesley writes: "January 17. I preached at 
Wandsworth. A gentleman, come from America, has again 
opened a door in this desolate place. In the morning I 
preached in Mr. Gilbert's house. Two negro servants of his 
and a mulatto appear to be much awakened. Shall not his sav- 
ing health be made known to all nations ? " 

November 29, 1758, Mr. Wesley writes : "I rode to Wands- 
worth and baptized two negroes belonging to Mr. Gilbert, a 

258 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

gentleman lately come from Antigua. One of these is deeply 
convinced of sin ; the other rejoices in God her Saviour, and is 
the first African Christian I have known. But shall not our 
Lord in due time have these heathens also for his inheritance ? " 

" These," says Mr. Tyerman, " seem simple entries ; but, as 
the acorn contains the oak, so they contain the germ of the 
marvelous Methodist work and successes among the sable sons 
of benighted and degraded Africa from that day to this. "We 
think not only of thousands of converted Africans in Nama- 
qualand, Kaffraria, Bechuana, Natal, Sierra Leone, on the 
Gambia and the Gold Coast, in Dahomey and Guinea ; but we 
also think of tens of thousands in the West Indies, and literally 
of hundreds of thousands in the Southern States of America. 
This wonderful work of God began in the house of Nathaniel 
Gilbert, a temporary sojourner in the town of Wandsworth." 

The last days of Nathaniel Gilbert, and the precious influ- 
ence which his unselfish and sanctified life exerted upon the 
family that he left behind him, are thus told by Mr. Tyerman : 

" On what do you trust?" asked a friend. "On Christ crucified," 
was the quick response. "Have you peace with God ? " He answered, 
"Unspeakable." "Have you no fear, no doubt?" ''None," replied 
the dying saint. " Can you part with your wife and children ? " " Yes, 
God will be their strength and portion." Thus died the first West In- 
dian Methodist. His wife soon followed him. His daughters, Alice 
und Mary, had victoriously preceded him. His third daughter, Mrs. 
Yates, died an equally blessed death. His son, Nicholas, for years 
was a faithful minister of Christ, and in his last moments was a 
happy witness of the power and blessedness of gospel truth. And 
finally, his brother Francis, his faithful fellow-laborer, returned to En- 
gland, and became a member of the Methodist class led by the immortal 
vicar of Madeley, the first class paper containing four names, and four 
;.nly: John Fletcher, Mary Fletcher, Francis Gilbert, and George Ferks; 
while, as late as the year 1864, Fletcher's clerical successor in the Made- 
ley vicarage was the great grandson of Nathaniel Gilbert, and testified 
that he had reason to believe that no child or grandchild of the first 
West Indian Methodist had passed away without being prepared for the 
better world; and that almost all of them had been even distinguished 

Wesley and the Coloked Race. 259 

amono- Christians for their earnest devotion to the divine Eedeemer. 
'■Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make 
princes in all the earth." 

It is not our purpose to trace in detail the wonderful work 
of Methodism in the "West India Islands, or how the mission 
extended its arms to the coasts of South America and Hon- 
duras. We may simply contrast Hayti and Cuba with Barba- 
does, Antigua, and Jamaica, in order to note the beneficent 
effects. While Methodism has at no time and nowhere accom- 
plished all she has capacity to do, and while we cannot claim 
for Methodism, that it has made the freedmen of these islands 
all they should be, any more than that it has extirpated vice 
from Great Britain and Ireland ; yet the contrast between 
those regions upon which it has exerted its true power and 
those upon which it has not, is so striking that no student of 
history can fail to see it. 

The African had been in America nearly one hundred and 
fifty years before Methodism came. The larger number of 
thi£ race with whom it first came in contact were those of 
Maryland and Yirginia. While they were by no means highly 
civilized, they had lost many of those features which, as 
barbarians, they had brought with them to America. They 
were no longer fetich worshipers and devotees to their former 
superstitions. While still, to a great extent, the slaves of relig- 
ous delusion, they could not, properly speaking, be called idol- 
aters. The Methodist preachers had a timely and early access 
to them in the promulgation of the word of life. The simple 
gospel thus proclaimed to them by the early evangelists had 
great attraction for them. Ere long fetichism and debas- 
ing hallucinations fled before the light of gospel truth. 
They were once barbarians, and would have remained so in 
their native land. "What seemed a curse was destined to prove 
a blessing in disguise. Many came as slaves to this strange 
and far-off land, to die in the triumphs of the Christian faith. 

Herein is seen the providential hand of God filled with the 

260 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

greatest blessing for the enslaved, and counteracting the cupid- 
ity of man. 

When the Methodist Episcopal Church was organized, in 
1784, it had already a large number of negro members in its 
expanding communion. 

Asbury and Coke were Englishmen, and violently opposed 
to slavery ; and Dr. Coke, by his attacks upon it, impeded to 
some extent the work among the slaves. Asbury, however, 
was more prudent, and more disposed to avoid public discus- 
sion. The Methodist preachers in the Southern States were 
many of them the sons of slave-holders, and, while opposed to 
slavery, they did not sympathize with Dr. Coke's method of 
treatment, and so had access to master and slave. Those early 
preachers gave great attention to the religious interests and 
welfare of the colored people, and in consequence large num- 
bers of them were formed into classes wherever they were 
found. The class-leader was oftentimes the largest slave- 
holder. A place in every church was provided for the colored 
members, and the sacrament was administered to them as reg- 
ularly as to the whites. Ere long some of the most intelligent 
and trustworthy were licensed to exhort and to preach. In 
Charleston, Georgetown, and Wilmington, several very large 
classes were formed. The colored often outnumbered the 
white members. In those early days there was no special serv- 
ice for this class, since in every station, at the stated service, 
the colored members occupied and often filled the large gal- 
leries, and joined heartily in the worship. Up to the year 
1787 there is no separate report of the colored members. The 
first separate report showed that the greater number were in 
Delaware and Maryland. 

Among the leading colored preachers of earlier Method- 
ism Henry Evans, of North Carolina, occupied a distinguished 
and conspicuous position. He was a free-born negro and a 
mechanic : a man of great integrity, and in high favor with 
the whites as well as with those who were of his own color. 

Wesley and the Colored Race. 261 

He worked among the stores in "Wilmington and Fayetteville, 
North Carolina, and in each place founded a Church, to which, 
at his own request, white preachers were sent. The Fourth- 
street Church, in Wilmington, is now upon a lot deeded to the 
African Church, for such the first Methodist Church there 
was called, and owes its place as a church lot to the labors of 
Henry Evans. So, too, the first Church in Fayetteville was 

"What Henry Evans was to the South, Black Harry, as he 
was called, was to the North. He was a coal-black negro, and 
traveled with Asbury and Coke, and preached with great 

•Castile Seeby was another famous colored preacher of a later 
day ; one to whose memory Bishop Capers has paid the tribute 
of his grateful love. 

Bichard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Church, 
was a power in New York Methodism. In New York, Phil- 
adelphia, Baltimore, Norfolk, and in the rural sections of the 
north-west districts, Methodism made gratifying progress, and 
especially in the farther South. In Charleston Methodism 
made large conquests among the colored people. There were 
many persons of color in that city of high respectability and of 
considerable intelligence, much of which they owed to the 
purity and simplicity of the gospel as preached by Methodist 

Up to 1832 there were no laws in any Southern State pro- 
hibiting colored people from learning to read and write, and 
there were regular schools kept for them. Many of the col- 
ored Methodists could read, and many were the trusted stew- 
ards and housekeepers of wealthy families, or porters in banks 
and stores. Many were freeborn, and able to contribute toward 
building and maintaining the churches. 

In the country the slaves attended the monthly services of 
the circuit preacher, and especially the camp-meetings. This 
class of negroes might be called Americo- Africans, since they 

262 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

were several generations removed from the native Africans. 
Christianity had its renovating influence upon them. The 
great mission-plantation system was not as yet, and the slaves 
owned by a Christian master were regular participants in 
the family worship. There was, however, another very large 
class of negroes perfectly neglected. It was that class on the 
large plantations on the coast, and in newly settled regions. 
Just before the African slave-trade was ended by law large 
bodies of native Africans were brought into the country. 
They were purchased in large numbers, and placed in the rice 
fields and on the Sea Islands. In a climate milder, yet resem- 
bling that they left, fed abundantly with the food to which 
they were accustomed, they increased very rapidly. They were 
under the rule of their old African traditions, and groveling 
religious superstitions abounded. The children and grand-chil- 
dren of these native Africans in general feature and character 
resembled those who had come from Guinea and Congo. The 
circuit preacher could not reach them, and still less the city 
preacher. If reached at all, they must be reached by the mis- 
sionary sent especially to them. 

The Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church 
was organized in 1817, and William Capers, afterward bishop 
of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was one of its first 
members. His great heart was stirred at the condition of the 
masses on the large plantations, and he, in connection with 
James O. Andrew, afterward bishop of the same Church, and 
always the warm and the true friend of the negro race, devised 
the plan of colored missions. This was in 1828. Dr. Capers 
prepared catechisms, visited the plantations, secured the co- 
operation of the planters, and mapped out the work. But few 
of the planters on the coast were then Methodists. They were 
principally Episcopalians, who only resided on their plantations 
during the winter months. They generally, however, gave a 
hearty co-operation, some of them agreeing to support the mis- 
sionary. There was much that was disagreeable and trying in 

Wesley and the Colored Race. 263 

this mission work. The slaves themselves were but few removes 
from heathenism itself, and the malaria of the rice fields was 
very deadly to the white man. Hence very trying were the cir- 
cumstances under which the missionary labored. The Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church supported the missions till 1845, and 
then the work was continued up to 1865 by the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church, South. During twenty years the Church South 
spent not less than one million of dollars in this field alone. 
The work was continually expanding, and demanding more min- 
isterial and financial outlay. The mission-plantation system. 
grew with the opening of new lands, and colored missions 
were formed wherever there was any large number of negroes. 
Churches were built especially for the slaves, and when they 
were not so built, the churches of the whites were used by them. 
In the cities and larger towns there were churches especially 
erected for their use, and a missionary in charge of them. 
Also there were Sunday-schools, leaders, and local preachers. 
The results of this great work told upon the negro population. 
Polygamy, at one time so extensively practiced among them, 
ceased among those under Methodist influence. Many colored 
families otherwise not legally united in the marriage relation 
became as practically so as were those of the whites. Thefts, 
drunkenness, gaming, and profanity were very rare among the 
colored people to whom the missionary had .access. There 
were over two hundred thousand members of color in the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, South, at the time when General 
Lee surrendered. For years, too, the laws prohibiting negroes 
learning to read were of no force, and only existed in the letter. 
There were many colored preachers who read well, and em- 
bellished the Christian character with all the graces of an 
upright life, and preached with power. Other Christian 
Churches had done a labor of love for the spiritual melioration 
of these once benighted sons and daughters of Ham. Yet to 
none do they owe a greater debt of gratitude than to the 
people called " Methodists." 

264 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

But we should give a very imperfect view of what Method- 
ism has done for the negro if we should confine it to those 
sections in which the negroes were in large numbers, and to 
that body of Southern Methodists which had them specially in 

In the larger cities of the North, while there were not many 
negroes, there were enough to form considerable congregations, 
and in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington, 
negroes were gathered together in Methodist Churches. There 
were several different Church organizations in the North, differ- 
ing only in government, which were laboring to evangelize 
and educate the colored race. These were the Zion Methodists, 
the African Methodists, and the Methodist Episcopal Church. 
In every State these Churches are found ; and in all of the 
States many of highest position and of largest means are con- 
nected with them. 

Before the war the African Methodists had a university in 
Ohio, and had her quota of lettered and educated clergymen. 

The war came on, but the work among the colored people 
was not suspended ; still the faithful missionary went to his 
field ; still he breathed the often deadly malaria of the swamps ; 
still he trusted his life and the lives of his family to a people 
whom the world expected, with ax and brand, to carry death 
and ruin wherever the white man was powerless to protect 
himself ; and still the Christian negro patiently waited for the 
end. Even where he loved his master, he longed for freedom ; 
and yet he felt no stroke for freedom, dear as it was, should 
be a bloody one. He simply waited. The Methodist had 
always been his friend. Many of the largest slave-holders 
were Methodists, and many were, like Nathaniel Gilbert, not 
unconcerned for their slaves. The Church had labored 
bravely, and was now rewarded in the greatness of the harvest ; 
but the war ended, and freedom came to the negro. 

Other Methodist bodies now had full access to the South, 
and with great zeal entered upon the work. 

Wesley and the Coloeed Race. 265 

The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, impoverished by 
the war, and scarcely able to survive the shock she had re- 
ceived, was unable to keep up the work she had begun and 
continued for so long a time. She could barely hold the 
ground she had gained. During the many years she had been 
directing the evangelical work among the negroes she had 
been training a body of colored ministers who were ready to 
take the places vacated by the white itinerant and local 
preachers. Many of these retained their connection with the 
Church South ; many of the ablest went with other bodies of 
Methodists. There was now aroused a great interest in the 
evangelization of the colored race on the part of the Northern 
people. They felt that every obligation required that they 
should do something for the negro, and at once they began 
their work. They found the field already prepared and white 
to the harvest. Preachers, leaders, and church buildings were 
at hand. Culture was needed, and especially organization for 
self-help, for hitherto the colored people had been provided 
for by others. They must now learn to provide for them- 
selves. The African Methodist Episcopal Church had a corps 
of able bishops and a compact organization. So had the Zion 
Methodists, who differed from the African Methodists in but 
little more than name. The Methodist Episcopal Church, rich 
and powerful, also came into the field. The Methodist Epis- 
copal Church established schools and colleges, and has been 
liberal and energetic. The other bodies have shown the same 
zeal. The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, gave to the 
colored Church which it had set up — the Colored Methodist 
Episcopal Church of America — all the church buildings which 
it had erected for its colored members, and saw it organized 
for important and successful work. 

The effects of Methodism upon the negro race in the South — 
and of the Baptists, the only other body of Christians who had 
done much for the negroes — was seen during and after the late 
war. The negroes rose in no insurrection. They waited the 

266 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

issue patiently, and when the end came and they were free, 
they accepted their freedom as of God. No Christian leader 
among them has ever been accused of any agitation that would 
result in bloodshed. They felt that God in his providence had 
said to the Christians of the South, " Take these sons of Africa 
and train them for me, and in my time I will call for them." 
The two colored men who have been members of the United 
States Senate — men who, according to all testimony, have been 
noted for moderation, dignity, and purity — were Methodists 
and of Southern birth. The congregations of colored Meth- 
odists thrown upon their own resources have nobly met the de- 
mands, and now day-schools, and Sunday-schools, and churches 
are found all over the country. 

There is another result which we ought not to disregard. It 
is the influence of Methodism in welding the hearts of the races 
together. The white Methodists yearned toward their black 
brethren. The preachers who had preached to them, the Sun- 
day-school teachers who had taught them, the class-leaders who 
had examined them, and the bishops who had watched over 
them, could not be hostile to them, and the colored race could 
not but feel warmly toward those who had led them to Christ. 
So, while there was political division, there was religious fel- 
lowship. As to the future it is full of promise. When Col- 
quitt, the Democratic Governor of Georgia, leads the religious 
services of the oolored people, by far the most of whom are 
opposed to his political views ; and when a Republican colored 
Congressman from his salary appropriates a liberal part to sup- 
port the family of his old owner impoverished by the war, 
every thing points to peace between the races, and prosperity 
for both ; and to this end we believe Methodism has been the 
chief contributor. That the colored Methodists will always 
remain divided we cannot think, but, as the "Wesleyans have 
their separate families, and the Methodist Episcopalians of 
America theirs, so may the colored Methodists remain as they 
are, differing in government, but Methodists in usage and creed. 

Wesley and the Colored Race. 267 

Although so wonderful a work has been done in the "West 
Indies and America, the negro race in this western world has 
not alone been blessed. The tidal wave of blessing has swept 
back upon the shores of Africa. 

In Sierra Leone a Methodist missionary was found as early as 
1811, but twenty years before he went there Methodist classes 
had been formed. Methodism extended in all the coast coun- 
try, and in 1839, nearly forty years ago, it reported over two 
thousand members. Thence the Wesleyan missionary went to 
Senegambia, then to the Lower Coast, then -to the Ashantee 
country, and then to the coast country near the Cape. America 
sent missionaries to Liberia, while English Methodists supplied 
their own dependencies. 

The work in Africa has just fairly begun, and the colored 
Churches in America are looking with eager eye to the day 
when they can take their places beside the great evangelisms 
of their white brethren. 

To no race, we repeat, has Methodism been so true a bless- 
ing as to the descendants of Ham. Among no people of any 
race has it borne better fruits ; to none does it promise more. 
Among no people is the name of John Wesley more vener- 
ated, and no people sing the songs of Charles Wesley with 
sweeter melody or heartiness ; and among no others is there a 
purer type of faith and love, or greater devotion to Wesleyan 


WESLEY as an Organizer has usurped public attention to 
such an extent as quite to obscure his character as a 
Preacher. And yet, in his power and success as a preacher 
was laid the foundation of all his power and success as an or- 
ganizer. He was, in simple truth, the most awakening and 
spiritually penetrative and powerful preacher of his age. 
Whitefield was more dramatic, but less intense ; more pictorial, 
but less close and forcible, less incisive and conclusive. In 
"Wesley's calmer discourses, lucid and engaging exposition laid 
the basis for close and searching application. In his more in- 
tense utterances, logic and passion were fused into a white heat 
of mingled argument, denunciation, and appeal, often of a 
most personal searchingness, often overwhelming in its vehe- 
ment home-thrusts. Some idea may be gained as to the char- 
acter of his most earnest preaching from his "Appeals to Men 
of Reason and Religion," especially the latter portions of the 
first of these, and from his celebrated " Sermon on Free 

I am, of course, aware that the intimation I have now given 
of the character of Wesley's preaching will surprise some, even 
of my well-informed readers, and that it is not in accordance 
with the popular conception of his preaching. It is many years 
since the late Dr. James Hamilton, in an article in the " North 
British Review," gave pictorial expression, in his own vivid 
way, to the mistaken idea which had grown up in some quar- 
ters respecting Wesley as* a preacher. He sketched him as, 
" after his morning sermon at the Foundery, mounting his 
pony, and trotting, and chatting, and gathering simples, till he 
reached some country hamlet, where he would bait his charger, 

O r\ r~L 


Wesley the Preacher. 271 

and talk through a little sermon with the villagers, and re- 
mount his pony and trot away again." A more unfounded and 
misleading specimen of fancy painting than this it would be 
impossible to imagine ; and one can only wonder where good 
James Hamilton picked up the ideas or the fictitious informa- 
tion which he deliberately put into this written form. He was 
altogether at fault in his picture. As Wesley was, during the 
greater part of his life, simply the most assiduous horseman, 
and one of the most spirited of riders, in the kingdom, riding 
ordinarily sixty miles (let it be remembered what the roads 
were in the middle of the last century) day by day, besides 
preaching twice or thrice, and not seldom riding eighty or 
ninety miles in the day ; so, for many years, Wesley was fre- 
quently a long preacher — was often one of the longest preach- 
ers of whom I have ever read or heard — and never stinted him- 
self of time when the feeling of the congregation seemed to 
invite him to enlarge, and when opportunity favored. Of 
course, however, he preached at all times many more short ser- 
mons than long ones, because he preached commonly three 
times every week-day, and four or five times on the Sunday, 
and because his earlier sermons on the Sunday needed to be 
over in time for his hearers to attend Church service. But 
when he preached after Church hours, whether in the after- 
noon or the later evening, and on special occasions, even 
on the week-evening, he was, as I have said, for many 
years often a very long preacher. Let me give some instances 
of this, only premising that all the special instances of protract- 
ed preaching which I am about to cite occurred after Wesley 
had taken to field-preaching. He had been an earnest and not 
unfrequently a long preacher before ; but it was not until he 
began to address crowds of thousands in the open air that his 
larger and grander powers as a preacher were called forth. 

About sixteen or seventeen months after his conversion 
Wesley writes in his Journal as follows, under date October 7, 
1739, (Sunday :)— 

272 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

Between five and six I called upon all who were present (about three 
thousand) at Stanley, on a little green, near the town, to accept of Christ 
as their only "wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." 
I was strengthened to speak as I never did before, and continued speak- 
ing near two hours; the darkness of the night and a little lightning not 
lessening the number, but increasing the seriousness of the hearers. 

Wesley had already, before this service, preached three 
times on that day ; and he preached yet once after it, " con- 
cluding the day " by " expounding part of our Lord's Sermon 
on the Mount to a small, serious company at Ebly." Five serv- 
ices, therefore, that day, and among them one in which his 
sermon alone was nearly two hours long ! 

On Friday, the 19th of the same month, Wesley preached at 
Newport, in Monmouthshire, in the morning, and coming to 
Cardiff about the middle of the day, he preached in the Shire 
Hall twice — in the afternoon at four, and again at six in the 
evening. He had a large congregation — " almost the whole 
town " — and, preaching from the six last beatitudes, he says, 
" My heart was so enlarged I knew not how to give over, so 
that we continued three hours." 

On Sunday, June 13, 1742, he preached in Epworth church- 
yard — his own and his father's Epworth — standing on his fa- 
ther's tomb, and continued the service " for near three hours." 
This was his fourth service that day. 

On Wednesday, May 24, 174S, at Birstal, he "was con- 
strained to continue his discourse near an hour longer than 
usual, God pouring out such a blessing that he knew not how 
to leave off." 

On Whitsunday, the 14th of May, 1749, at Limerick, he 
began to preach at five in the morning, and, there being no 
liturgy and no lesson, but only the simplest service, three short 
singings, one short prayer, and a final benediction, besides the 
sermon, he yet kept the congregation till near seven, " hardly 
knowing how the time went." 

At Whitehaven, on a Saturday evening in September, 1749, 

Wesley the Peeachee. 273 

he preached from six to eight — a simple week-night service — 
which must have implied a sermon of not less than an hour and 
a quarter long ; and at eight he met the Society. 

These instances may suffice to show how Wesley enlarged 
under special influences. Even when he was more than sev- 
enty years of age, he sometimes, on a week-night evening, was 
so . drawn out as to " preach a full hour " in the open air — as, 
for instance, in the market-place of Caermarthen, on the 21st 
of August, 1777. 

In. the article to which I have referred it was said, that while 
"Wesley could "talk through a little sermon with the villagers," 
he "seldom coped with the multitude." In the "Wesleyan 
Methodist Magazine " for December, 1847, will be found a 
paper from the pen of the venerable Thomas Jackson, who died 
in 1873, in the ninetieth year of his age, which examines and 
reproves the errors of that article. Mr. Jackson thus deals 
with the point now under notice : — 

That he preached to " villagers" so as to be understood by them, as 
his blessed Lord had done, will not be denied ; but that he " seldom 
coped with the multitude " is notoriously at variance with fact. No 
man was accustomed to address larger multitudes or with greater suc- 
cess. At Moorfields, Kennington Common, Kingswood, Bristol, New- 
castle, in Cornwall, Staffordshire, and Yorkshire, immense multitudes 
of people were accustomed to congregate around him through a long se- 
ries of years, and that with undiminished interest ; and it may be fairly 
questioned whether any minister in modern ages has been instrumental 
in effecting a greater number of conversions. He possessed all the essen- 
tial requisites of a great preacher; and in nothing was he inferior to his 
eminent friend and contemporary, except in voice and manner. In re- 
spect of matter, language, and arrangement, his sermons were vastly 
superior to those of Mr. Whitefield. Those persons who judge of Mr. 
Wesley's ministry from the sermons which he preached and published in 
the decline of life, greatly mistake his real character. Till he was enfee- 
bled by age, his discourses were not at all remarkable for their brevity. 
They were often extended to a considerable length, as we learn from his 
Journal ; and yet, according to his oft-repeated statements, he did not 
know how to leave off and dismiss the people, for his mind was full of 

274 The Wesley Memoetal Volume. 

evangelical matter, and his heart was richly charged with heavenly zeal. 
In a sense higher than ever entered into the thoughts of Archimedes, as 
he himself states, he was often ready to exclaim, when addressing vast 
multitudes in his Master's name, "Give me the where to stand, and I 
will move the world ! " 

Such is the testimony of Thomas Jackson, the author of the 
full and admirable " Life of Charles Wesley," and the very 
accurate editor of Wesley's voluminous works ; who was him- 
self born before the death of Wesley ; who made all that re- 
lated to him his life-study ; who knew well some of the men 
who had known Wesley best ; and who should himself have 
accomplished for the life of John Wesley what he has so ex- 
cellently done as the biographer of Charles. The case being 
as Mr. Jackson has stated it, and as the extracts from the Jour- 
nal, which have been given, prove it to have been, it is proper 
to explain how the erroneous ideas which have been current as 
to the character of his preaching have originated. Three 
causes may be assigned to account for them. 

One is hinted at by Mr. Jackson in the extract we have given. 
Mr. Wesley's was a very long life. Those of his people who 
had known him in his prime of strength and energy had died 
before himself. The traditions as to his preaching which have 
been current during the last half century have been mostly 
derived from those who had only heard him in his extreme old 
age, and, in many instances, on his hasty visits from place to 
place, when he would preach at seven o'clock on the week- 
night evening, or at five o'clock in the morning. 

But another, and, perhaps, more influential cause, has been, 
that an inference as to the length and style of- his spoken ser- 
mons has been erroneously drawn from his published sermons. 
How unwarranted any such inference must be, may be shown 
by a remark of his elder brother Samuel, made at the very 
beginning of Wesley's preaching career, and before he had 
begun field-preaching. In a letter addressed to Charles Wes- 
ley, but which refers to both the brothers, Samuel says, under 

Wesley the Peeachee. 275 

date of December 1, 1738 : " There is a most monstrous 
appearance of dishonesty among you ; your sermons are 
generally three quarters of an hour or an hour long in the 
pulpit, but when printed are short snips ; rather notes than 

If this was the case so soon after, the brothers had broken 
away from the bondage of sermon-reading in the pulpit, it 
is certain that, in after years, except in special cages — such 
as a sermon to be preached before the University — "Wesley's 
written sermons, which were ordinarily compositions having 
a definite purpose of theological statement and definition, 
must be regarded as altogether different in character from 
his -preached sermons, delivered extempore, often after little 
or no written preparation. Wesley the Preacher was teth- 
ered by no lines of written preparation and verbal recollec- 
tion; he spoke with extraordinary power of utterance out of 
the fullness of his heart. 

Still another cause of the error I have been exposing must 
probably be found in the urgency with which Wesley, in 
various places, enjoins on his preachers, as a rule, to preach 
short, and the emphatic way in which he insists to them on 
the evils of long preaching. But it mast be remembered 
that the great majority of Wesley's preachers were men 
whose stock of knowledge was very small, and who had re- 
ceived no intellectual training whatever. They resembled the 
plainest and most fervid of the Methodist local preachers or ex- 
horters of to-day. The same rule could not be applicable to 
him as to them. But, indeed, the great Methodist preachers 
of Wesley's lifetime — his most powerful lay helpers — were, as 
a matter of fact, none of them short preachers, while most of 
them were often, if not usually, very long preachers. Such 
were Walsh and Bradburn and Benson and Clarke. 

The fact, at any rate, is as I have stated it, so far as respects 
the preaching of Wesley ; and I may add in passing, that for 
not a few years Charles Wesley was as long and often as pow- 

276 The Wesley Memokial Volume. 

erful a preacher, even as he was as hard-riding and hard-work- 
ing an itinerant evangelist, as his brother John. 

In showing thai "Wesley, instead of being a talker of neat 
little sermons, was, in his prime of life, frequently a lono- 
preacher, and sometimes one of the longest preachers of whom 
we have any knowledge, I have not only shown how mistaken 
has been the popular tradition respecting his special character- 
istics as a preacher, but I have also proved that there must 
have been a remarkable charm about his preaching. None but 
a very eloquent speaker could have held thousands of people 
intently listening to him for two or three hours together in the 
open air. I have to add that, as I have already intimated, he 
was a singularly powerful preacher. Southey has given con- 
clusive evidence as to this point, in the interesting chapter in 
the first volume of his biography of Wesley, entitled, " Scenes 
of Itinerancy." No one, indeed, has done such justice as 
Southey to Wesley's gifts as a preacher. Not only in the 
" Life of Wesley," but in " The Doctor," and in his " Com- 
monplace Book," he has given evidence of the careful study 
and the full appreciation with which he has realized the 
preaching powers of Wesley. The able and eloquent Ameri- 
can historian, Stevens, gives some striking incidents to show 
how great that power was. " In the midst of a mob, ' I called,' 
Wesley writes, ' for a chair ; the winds were hushed, and all 
was calm and still ; my heart was filled with love, my eyes 
with tears, and my mouth with arguments. They were 
amazed ; they were ashamed ; they were melted down ; they 
devoured every word.' That," says Dr. Stevens, " must have 
been genuine eloquence." Doubtless it was, and the very 
words — the vivid, affecting style of the description here quoted 
from Wesley himself — may serve to intimate what was part of 
his special power as a speaker. 

Like many terse, nervous writers, Wesley was not only a 
nervous but a copious speaker. His words flowed in a direct, 
steady, powerful, sometimes a rapid, stream, and every word 

Wesley the Peeachee. 277 

told, because every word bore its proper meaning. With all 
the fullness of utterance, the genuine eloquence, there was no 
tautology, no diffuseness of style, no dilution. Close logical, 
high verbal, adequate philosophic, culture had, in the case of 
"Wesley, laid the basis of clear, vivid, direct, and copious ex- 
tempore powers of speech. Culture and discipline, such as had 
prepared Cicero for his oratorical successes, helped to make 
Wesley the powerful, persuasive, at times the thrilling and 
electrifying, preacher which he undoubtedly was. 

What a picture is that given of the effects of Wesley's 
preaching in connection with his famous visit to Epworth ! 
For eight evenings in succession, in that splendid early sum- 
mer, season, he preached to vast crowds from his father's tomb, 
and his last discourse was his most powerful and prolonged, 
and was addressed to the largest multitude. The circum- 
stance, however, to which I refer, took place not on the last 
day of his preaching, but the day immediately preceding, (Sat- 
urday, June 12, 1742.) "While I was speaking several 
dropped down as dead ; and among the rest such a cry was 
heard of sinners groaning for the righteousness of faith as al- 
most drowned my voice." "I observed a gentleman there 
who was remarkable for not pretending to be of any religion 
at all. I was informed he had not been at public worship of 
any kind for upward of thirty years. Seeing him stand as mo- 
tionless as a statue, I asked him abruptly, ' Sir, are you a sin- 
ner ? ' He replied with a deep and broken voice, ' Sinner 
enough ; ' and continued staring upward till his wife and a 
servant or two, who were all in tears, put him into his chaise 
and carried him home." The stricken, staring, statue-like mas- 
ter, the weeping wife and servants — what a picture, I say, 
have we here ! 

That Wesley's preaching was attended by more powerful 

and penetrating immediate results than that of any of his 

famous contemporary Methodist preachers, is notorious ; but it 

has been thought difficult to understand this. He was not, as I 

278 The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 

have said, a pictorial or dramatic preacher, like his great preach- 
ing contemporary, Whitefield ; but whereas "Whitefield, power- 
ful preacher as he was, was yet more popular than powerful 
Wesley, popular preacher as he was, was yet more powerful in 
comparison with his fellows than he was popular. 

There is really, however, no special mystery about the power 
of Wesley's preaching. All we know of his earlier preaching, 
under special circumstances, would lead to the conclusion that 
he could not but be a singularly powerful preacher. His invaria- 
ble terseness of phrase and style prevented him from ever being 
tedious. His full and ready flow of thoughts, as well as of fit 
words, carried his audience with him. He was most pleasant 
in manner, pellucid in statement, fresh and lively throughout, 
and so frequent, so continuous, I might almost say, in his per- 
sonal application of what he was saying, making his doctrine to 
tell at every point throughout his discourse, that he never al- 
lowed the attention of his congregation to slumber. The cele- 
brated Kennicott, at that time an undergraduate at Oxford, 
heard Wesley preach his last sermon before the University, in 
1744, a flaming, searching, intrepidly faithful sermon. Apart 
from its severity, he admired the sermon greatly, and was 
evidently very much impressed by the personality of the 
preacher. " His black hair," he says, " quite smooth, and 
parted very exactly, added to a peculiar composure in his 
countenance, showed him to be an uncommon man." He 
speaks of his " agreeable emphasis " in reading. He refers 
with approval to "many just invectives" in his sermon, but 
with disapproval to " the zeal and unbounded satire with which 
he fired his address when he came to what he called his plain, 
practical conclusion." If " his censures " had only been 
"moderated," and certain portions omitted, Kennicott says, 
"I think his discourse, as to style and delivery, would have 
been uncommonly pleasing to others as well as to myself." 
He adds, " He is allowed to be a man of great parts." 

Cowper's lines on Wesley will not be forgotten while we are 

"Wesley the Preacher. 279 

on the subject of his preaching. They were written when the 
fire and flame of "Wesley's early manhood were long gone by. 
He speaks of him as one — 

"Who, when occasion justified its use, 
Had wit as bright as ready to produce ; 
Could fetch from records of an earlier age, 
Or from philosophy's enlightened page, 
His rich materials, and regale your ear 
With strains it was a privilege to hear. 
Yet, above all, his luxury supreme, 
And his chief glory, was the gospel theme : 
There he was copious as old Greece or Rome, 
His happy eloquence seemed there at home; 
Ambitious not to shine or to excel, 
But to treat justly what he loved so well." 

I apprehend that the last four lines give a most true and 
happy description of Wesley's ordinary ministry, while Kenni- 
cott's description enables us in some measure to understand the 
fire and intensity which characterized his preaching on special 
occasions, and in the prime of his life. 

Dr. Stevens has dwelt on the authority with which "Wesley 
spoke, the calm command which belonged to his presence and 
gave weight and force to his words. No doubt there was this 
characteristic always about "Wesley's person and presence. 
Gambold testifies to the same effect in regard to "Wesley in his 
early Oxford days. Calm, serene, methodical, as "Wesley was, 
there was a deep, steadfast fire of earnest purpose about him ; 
and, notwithstanding the smallness of his stature, there was an 
elevation of character and of bearing visible to all with whom 
he had intercourse, which gave him a wonderful power of com- 
mand, however quiet were his words, and however placid his 
deportment. But the extraordinary power of his preaching, 
while it owed something, no doubt, to this tone and presence 
of calm, unconscious authority, was due mainly, essentially, to 
the searching and importunate closeness and fidelity with which 

280 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

he dealt with, the consciences of his hearers, and the pas- 
sionate vehemence with which he urged and entreated them 
to turn to Christ and be saved. He had not the "gift 
of tears," as "Whitefield had, or as Charles Wesley had, whose 
preaching appears to have been, in several respects, interme- 
diate in character between that of his brother John and of 
his friend Whitefield ; yet Wesley was often moved to tears 
as he pleaded with his hearers, and oftener still was the 
means of moving multitudes that heard him to tears. At 
times, however, his onset in applying his subject to the 
lives, the cases, the consciences of his hearers, was too intense, 
too direct, too electrical to be answered by tears. His words 
went with a sudden and startling shock straight home into the 
very core of the guilty sinner's consciousness and heart, and 
cries, shrieks, sudden fits, cases of fainting and insensibility, 
men and women " dropping down as dead," as if they had 
been physically struck by a blow from some terrible engine, by 
a stone from a catapult, or a ball from a cannon, were the fre- 
quent consequence. And yet it was not that Wesley used 
stronger words than other preachers ; not that he used high 
word-coloring or exaggerated expre'ssions ; the contrary was 
the case. Rather, it was that, using simpler and fewer words 
than others to express the truth — going straighter to his pur- 
pose, and with less word-foliage, less verbiage, to shroud or 
overshadow his meaning — the real, essential truth was more 
easily and directly seen and felt by the hearer. There was 
less of human art or device ; the language was simpler and 
more transparent ; and so the truth shone more clearly and 
fully through. There was less in language of what " man's 
wisdom teacheth ; " less of what was fanciful, or elaborate, or 
artificial, and therefore there was more of the Spirit's opera- 
tion ; more of " the demonstration of the Spirit and of power." 
So far as any mere written composition can give an idea of how 
Wesley preached when his aim was specially to convince and 
awaken, perhaps his. last sermon before the University and the 

Wesley the Preacher. 281 

wonderful " applications " contained in his first " Appeal to 
Men of Reason and Religion " may help ns to such an idea ; 
but it must always be remembered that no written composi- 
tions can really approach the energy and directness with which 
Wesley preached when vast crowds hung upon his lips, to 
whom he was declaring, as in Epworth church-yard, " the 
whole counsel of God.-' 

Of the clear, strong, intense style in which Wesley could, if 
he felt it to be necessary, combine doctrinal argument with 
declamatory invective of the most scathing terribleness, we 
have an instance in his famous sermon on " Free Grace." But 
for the publication of that sermon we should at the present 
time have had no conception of what his powers were in that 
kind ; and it was owing only to very special circumstances, and 
much against his liking, that "Wesley felt himself constrained 
to publish that sermon. 

It is well known that Dr. Johnson had a great reverence 
for Wesley, and much enjoyed his society. In a letter to 
Wesley himself, he compliments him as " Plato." Cowper, 
also, in the lines we have quoted, refers to Wesley's power in 
social conversation of bringing forth the treasures of ancient 
philosophy. Let any competent judge read the plainly 
written but elevated and beautiful sermon on " The Original 
of the Law," and he will at once recognize the impress of a 
mind which, while it avoided all display of learning, was 
deeply imbued with the training and results of philosophy — of 
the highest and best philosophy, whether ancient or modern — 
so far as philosophy had advanced in Wesley's day. 

Wesley had been an excellent preacher of his kind, though 
not as yet evangelical, before he went to America. His beau- 
tiful sermon on the " Circumcision of the Heart," preached 
before the University of Oxford in 1733, is one of several ser- 
mons included in his " Works," which afford decisive evidence 
on this point. His style also — a style which the best judges, 
such as Southey, have agreed in greatly admiring, and which, 

282 The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 

indeed, no one who understands and loves clear, pure, pleasant 
English can fail to admire — seems to have been already formed 
at that period, although its full power was not as yet developed ; 
it was awaiting development under the inspiration of full Chris- 
tian tenderness and zeal. But it was not until after he had 
become Bohler's disciple that preaching came to be recognized 
and felt by himself to be his great work, or that the character- 
istic power of his preaching was brought out. It was his per- 
ception of the doctrine of salvation by faith which not only 
transformed him thereafter into a preacher, as his first and 
greatest calling, but which also breathed a new soul into his 
preaching. When he began to preach this doctrine his 
hearers generally felt that a new power accompanied his 
preaching ; and, at the same time, the clergy and the orthodox 
Pharisaic hearers felt that a dangerous, startling, revolutionary 
doctrine was being proclaimed. Wherever he preached 
crowds flowed in larger and larger volume to hear him ; but, 
at the same time, church after church was shut against him. 
As Gambold wrote in a letter to Wesley, it is the doctrine of 
salvation by faith which seems to constitute the special offense 
of the cross. This, at any rate, in Wesley's days, was the one 
doctrine which clergymen and orthodox church-goers would 
not endure. Short of this almost any thing might be preached, 
but on no account this. The University of Oxford would 
endure the high doctrine as to Christian attainment and conse- 
cration taught in the sermon on " The Circumcision of the 
Heart," but it would not endure the doctrine of salvation by 
faith, which ten years later, the same preacher would have set 
forth before his University. The reason would seem to be 
twofold : the evangelical doctrine of salvation by faith strips 
men altogether of their own righteousness, laying them all low 
at the same level in presence of God's holiness and of Christ's 
atonement, as needing divine pardon and divine renewal; and 
it also teaches the " real presence " of the divine Spirit, insists 
upon the present supernatural power of God to inspire repent- 

Wesley the Preacher. 283 

ance and faith and to renew the soul — the present supernatural 
power of Jesus Christ to save the sinner. Such a doctrine is 
" spiritual ; " it enforces the living power and presence of 
spiritual realities ; it is accordingly " foolishness " and a 
" stumbling block " to the " natural man." The " natural 
man" receiveth not these "things of the Spirit of God." The 
doctrine of high Christian holiness may be regarded as but 
another, and the highest, form of moral philosophy, of select 
and virtuous Christian culture. The doctrine of salvation by 
faith, through grace, is one which humbles utterly the pride of 
human understanding, and of merely human virtue. It was 
when Wesley became the preacher of this doctrine that he 
became a truly aud fully Christian preacher. It was not a new 
doctrine ; it was the doctrine of the apostles, the reformers, 
and even of the homilies and formularies of the Church of 
England itself ; but in a sense-bound and heartless age it had 
been almost utterly forgotten. To revive it by the ordinance 
of preaching became henceforth Wesley's great life-work. He 
became, above all things, himself a preacher, and he founded 
a preaching institute ; with preaching, however, always associ- 
ating close personal and individual fellowship. 

The whole of Methodism unfolded from this beginning. To 
promote preaching and fellowship was the one work, fellowship 
including a perpetual individual testimony of Christian believ- 
ers as to salvation by grace, through faith. Preaching and fel- 
lowship — this was all from first to last ; true preaching, and 
true, vital, Christian fellowship, which involved opposition to 
untrue preaching, and to fellowship not truly and fully Chris- 
tian. From this unfolded all Wesley's life and history. His 
union for a season with the Moravians, and then his separation 
from them, when their teaching became, for the time, mixed 
up and entangled with demoralizing error ; the foundation of 
his own Society — that of " the people called Methodists ; " his 
separation from his brother Whitefield and from Calvinism ; 
his field preachings ; his separate meeting-houses and separate 

284 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

communions ; his class-meetings, and band-meetings, and all 
the discipline of his Society ; his conference and his brother- 
hood of itinerant Methodist preachers; his increasing irregu- 
larities as a Churchman ; his ordinations, and the virtual though 
not formal or voluntary separation of his Societies from the 
Church of England ; all resulted from the same beginning — 
from his embracing u the doctrine of salvation by faith." 


THE absolute demonstration of John Wesley's great work 
is, that it stands the scrutiny of the age and the test of 
time. During his life he was diversely interpreted. Well 
nigh worshiped by his adherents as a saint, he was ridiculed 
and denounced by others as an enthusiast, a fanatic, a schis- 
matic. Even those who admired the man, and pondered with 
wonder his tireless labors and unexampled achievements, 
misconceived his motives, and utterly failed to compre- 
hend his true character. The grandeur and magnitude of a 
mountain do not impress us while standing in its shadow as 
when, from some conspicuous eminence, the eye takes in its 
vastness and altitude. Comparison comes in to aid us in our 
estimate, and the prominence which was hidden by nearness of 
position looms up from the distant point of observation. The 
men of Wesley's time did not and could not understand him. 
The antagonisms of his day provoked prejudices, exaggerated 
alike his virtues and his infirmities, and the controversies 
about his opinions and methods left contemporaneous judgment 
suspended and vibrating with the unresting winds which blew 
upon him. Between friends and foes opinions were so conflict- 
ing and extreme as to leave the intermediate classes in blank 

The peculiar sanctity of the man, extravagant, as the world 
thought, yet always consistent with itself — the spirituality of 
his experience and his teachings, in offensive contrast with the 
prevailing type of religion — -his broad views of the gospel, its 
power and mission, in opposition to the narrow and partial 
theology then prevalent — all these gave to his opponents a great 
advantage in turning the popular current against him. Hence 

286 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

"Wesley was a well-abused man. Hated, persecuted, maligned, 
he was sifted as wheat ; and yet, surviving all these agitations, 
and holding on the even tenor of his way, he lived to see the 
inauguration of that change in thought and feeling which has 
at last assigned him a place in "Westminster Abbey, and thus 
secures a posthumous immortality to him, who, at one time, by 
the great majority of a lifeless Church and an ungodly nation, 
was not considered fit to live at all. 

The original fact, long doubted, denied, and obscured by mis- 
conceptions, false charges, and direct efforts to break down his 
influence and authority, has now crystallized in the universal 
conviction that he was a great man, a representative man ; great 
in his natural endowments, his scholarship and culture, and yet 
greater still in the singleness of his consecration and the un- 
wearied outlay of all his powers for the good of his race. For 
self-denial, heroic devotion, and protracted service, there is 
hardly a peer to be found in the annals of human history. 

However great "Wesley was as an organizer — whatever his 
administrative talents as an original gift, and however these 
were developed, by early training in his father's house, by his 
mother's genius and piety, and his long scholastic career — yet 
his success was the result, not so much of his real statesman 
ship, as of the subordination of his plans to apostolic prece- 
dent and providential suggestion. But this may be rightfully 
called the truest and highest ecclesiastical statesmanship. The 
church system of which he was the founder was not the elab- 
oration of his intellect ; not spun and woven from a pattern 
conceived in his own mind ; but was adopted in detail, one 
thing at a time, and at long intervals, as experience intimated 
a want or providence opened the way. Those familiar with 
the rise and progress of Methodism will see the reasqn and 
propriety of these views. Leaving out the many illustrations 
which "Wesley's history furnishes, this paper must be confined 
to a single fact and feature — the itinerancy. 

Called of God to preach, authenticated by the Church, and 

Wesley as an Itinerant. 287 

yet disowned, rejected, and driven out by the ecclesiastics, 
Wesley had no alternative but infidelity to his trust and his 
convictions of duty, or, leaving the houses of worship, to go 
out into the highways and hedges. His first circuits were 
improvised. He had no plan but readiness to enter every 
open door, to obey the call of the people, to be instant in 
season and out of season. Turning away from settled con- 
gregations, organized with stated services, he went to the 
outcasts, the overlooked, the forgotten. He could not fore- 
cast the future, and had no idea " whereunto this thing would 
grow." Obedient to the heavenly vision, and working in 
harmony with the spirit of all grace and truth, "mightily 
grew the word of God and prevailed." The success of the 
movement necessitated provision to conserve its fruits. God 
met the emergency by thrusting out helpers and co-laborers. 
How "Wesley hesitated about the recognition of these irregu- 
lar, unordained men, and how he was overcome by the sage 
and timely warning of his mother, are facts on record, " known 
and read of all." 

Eight here the plan began to unfold and assume shape ; 
and iHgrew and grew, and is growing yet — all its possibili- 
ties being still future. More than a century of work and 
progress has not exhausted its vitality, or revealed any want 
of adaptation to the changing phases of human society. 

Outside of Methodism, the idea always prevailed that itiner- 
ancy was an admirable pioneer arrangement, well suited to a 
frontier population, to new settlements, to a crude state of 
social life, but wholly unfit for stable, well-established com- 
munities. On the basis of this plausible view the Methodist 
Church has been regarded as a forerunner, whose sole func- 
tion was to prepare the way for the settled pastorate of other 
denominations. We do not mean to assail other people or 
their ways, or to dogmatize in behalf of Methodism; but the 
argument for a settled ministry, or even for a long term, 
has always seemed to ignore the self-conserving power of a 

288 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

true Christianity as found in the regenerate, and doubtless, 
as originally intended to operate for the protection of the 
local interests of Christ's kingdom. The ministry, according 
to the pattern shown us in the gospel, were to be left free 
for the work of aggression upon the world of unbelievers; 
but the policy of the Churches generally has reversed the 
divine order. They have limited the preacher's field — cir- 
cumscribed him— merged the herald in the pastor, and taught 
those who ought to live piously by their personal faith and 
communion with God, and through active labor in their local 
sphere for the benefit of others, to be dependent, and therefore 
feeble and inefficient. The sheep ought to do their own graz- 
ing, and not wait to be fed by hand. The Methodist Church, 
in order, as it is assumed, to compete with other denominations, 
has largely modified her peculiar system, and by every modifi- 
cation enfeebled herself. Almost every extension of the pas- 
toral term is a loss of aggressive power — of the real efficiency 
of the ministry in building up the Church — without adequate 
compensation in the conservation of her members. This is not 
the place to discuss the question now agitating the Church in 
some sections ; nevertheless, the thoughts which f olllw may 
prove suggestive, and help to a right settlement. 

" Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every 
creature." Nothing but an itinerant ministry can execute this 
command. So the apostles seem to have understood it, and, 
though few in number, they well nigh fulfilled the commission 
in their day. The history of the Church all along has verified 
the general idea of the indispensableness of the itinerancy, in 
that religion has been stagnant and declined when the ministry 
lacked aggressiveness, and progressive when they left their 
nests and stretched into " the regions beyond." The mission- 
ary operations of the day is the great representative fact of the 
Christian religion now ; and the signs of life and fruitfulness 
at home are but the reflex results of zeal expended abroad. No 
Church can prosper that does not work outside of her private 

Wesley as an Itinerant. 289 

inclosures. The attempt to preserve and perpetuate herself 
without enlargement and succession, made sure by aggressive 
zeal and enterprise, will be at the cost of spiritual power, and 
sooner or later of life itself. 

As a rule and a policy the settled pastorate (and, of course, 
all approximations to it are subject to the same discount) is 
maintained and defended by views which, unwittingly per- 
haps, nevertheless effectually, interfere with those spiritual in- 
fluences that alone give power to preaching and stability to 
profession. " Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, 
saith the Lord," is an expression which affirms a principle in 
the administration of grace that is not to be confined in its ap- 
plication to the terms employed, but extends to every affiliated 
thing that is made a ground of reliance for religious results. 
The primary, all-absorbing object of the Christian ministry is, 
or ought to be, the conversion of sinners. The Church should 
recognize and conform to this idea in her plan of service as di- 
rectly as the preacher himself. Now the end proposed is to be 
reached purely and exclusively by the Spirit's demonstration 
and power. Hence every thing, however harmless or even de- 
sirable in itself abstractly considered, which intervenes in the 
preconceptions of the Church as necessary or even auxiliary to 
the success of the word, forestalls the divine plan, grieves the 
Spirit, and dooms the ministry to defeat ! 

The notion that to be useful a preacher must know the peo- 
ple and be known by them — that there must be reciprocal fel- 
lowship, the result of acquaintance and social intercourse — that 
manner, style, and gifts must harmonize with the conventional 
tastes and aptitudes of the audience, is all a simple fallacy, 
plausible but delusive. Indeed, the better suited the people 
are in these respects — the more contented with the fitness and 
adaptation of the instrument and the human proportion of 
means to ends — the less likely is success. There may be mutual 
delight and satisfaction between pastor and people, but there 
may be no revival of the work of God. The man in the pulpit 

290 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

may be pious and consecrated, bnt, exalted and magnified by the 
estimate of tbe people as though he alone were " somewhat," a 
jealous God cannot give fruit to his preaching without seeming 
to indorse a vital error in the mind of the Church. Paul may 
plant, Apollos water, but God alone can give the increase. 
There is a world of planting and watering going on, but the 
increase is not proportionate. "Why?" is a great question. 
These modern Church arrangements remind one of the servant 
Gehazi with the. prophet's staff laid upon the dead child. 
There is no life till the Master come, and when he comes he 
will not operate till the room is emptied. The prophet must 
be alone with God and the dead. My observation is, that the 
most popular preacher — the man most desired by the Churches 
— is most frequently the least useful. The sermon which does 
not do the work of Christ upon the souls of men may be intel- 
lectually great, yet, in a true gospel sense, it is labor lost. In 
the history of the Church it is a suggestive fact, that commonly 
as a preacher grows famous the visible results of his labor 
diminish in number and value. Talents, reputation, influence, 
are all elements of usefulness, and they would be effective if 
they were not complicated with fundamental errors which 
dishonor the Spirit, and thus provoke the Almighty to leave 
the Church to her idols. 

The Lord will not give his glory to another ; and when the 
Clmrch undertakes to determine the time and the methods and 
the instruments by and through which he must work, if at all, 
no marvel if an offended God resents the impertinence and de- 
clines copartnership in the scheme. Many a good man is cur- 
tailed in his usefulness by the adulation of the people, by their 
dependence upon him, making flesh their arm instead of shut- 
ting themselves up to faith in God. The opinions and the 
feelings, the affections and the confidence, which stand like 
a wall between the preacher and the Spirit, forbidding his 
co-operation lest he patronize an unscriptural, mischievous 
error, are all fostered by long, pleasant association, and they 

"Wesley as an Itinerant. 291 

mar the efficiency of the pulpit and dilute the piety of the 

Mr. Wesley's plan of subpastors under the name of "class- 
leaders," among whom the Church members were parceled out 
for a stated weekly meeting and for general oversight, met the 
necessities of the case, both as to loving guardianship and disci- 
pline, while yet the preachers had time for study and travel, 
and daily ministrations to the outside world. As one of the 
grand sequences of this order of things, well nigh every public 
service was signalized by the conversion of sinners. The 
Church looked for this result, prayed for it, and felt that the 
service was largely a failure without it. The preachers ex- 
pected it, chose their subjects accordingly, and pressed the 
truth to this issue. Can any body tell why it is that in these 
lays so many sermons of good men are barren of good results ? 
[n view of the genius and mission and promises of Christianity — 
:he pentecostal example, apostolic times, and the exploits of our 
fathers — " these things ought not so to be." Nor would they, if 
ill parties had not given up those dominant, vitalizing convic- 
;ions as to the nature and privileges of the Church and the spe- 
cial functions of the pulpit, and substituted them by human 
deas and methods and dependencies, such as time, mutual ac- 
quaintance, protracted services, and all that personal influence 
which is supposed to cluster about the long-known and much- 
loved pastor. The secret of power is in divine truth, the 
prayer of faith, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost. These 
;annot be supplemented. Nor do they need it. If we attempt 
t we offend, repel the blessing, and defeat ourselves. At this 
rery point the faith of the Church is at fault. It does not 
''look to God alone, with self-distrusting care," excluding all 
secondary helps, and grasping the divine agency as efficient and 
sufficient. When Moses, instead of speaking to the rock as 
iirected, smote it with his wonder-working rod, although the 
svater burst forth, God, conceiving himself to be dishonored 
before the people, punished the sin by the death and burial 

292 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

of the offender in the wilderness. "We must learn to honor 
God, (the truth of his word,) and cease to lean to our own 
understanding, to our pet theories, and chosen instruments. 
The itinerant system, as originally intended and as carried out 
for a long time, by its very nature and methods precluded all 
those subtle, insidious ideas and influences which accompany 
every departure from the old self-denying, cross-bearing way, 
and always come in to undermine the more spiritual view, and 
so adulterate the faith of the Church. 

Conceding the flexibility of the system, its power of adapta- 
tion to all real demands, the judgment of the writer has de- 
murred to every material infraction of the plan which compels 
frequent changes of ministers. Indeed, one of the leading 
advantages of the itinerancy is in the free circulation of the 
gifts, grace, and aptitudes of the ministry. A strong, rich 
congregation cannot monopolize their favorite. The circuit 
may compete with the station. The city and the country peo- 
ple may share alike in the revolutions of time. The chief, 
special talents of the brethren in various ways are sown broad- 
cast. No preacher, though personally very popular, suits every 
body. He may be God's messenger to some, but he is not an 
apostle to all. If faithful, his work in a given place is soon 
accomplished, and he should go to another where like subjects 
await his coming. Confine him to one appointment, and you 
doom him to glean when he might have reaped, and rob 
him of the sheaves he would have gathered in another field.* 

If Methodism would perpetuate her glory, let her stick to her 
ensign. A city appointment, a fine parsonage, a good salary, 

* Other advantages the itinerancy has over the settled pastorate. If the ap- 
pointment run but for one year, (and cannot be continued longer than two or three 
years at most,) the Church has the strongest guarantee that she will receive the 
very best energies of her ministry, and the very cream of their labors. For, to the 
man truly called of God to save souls, what can be a greater incentive to earnest and 
effective labor than the thought that in one short year he may be, to all intents 
and purposes, dead to the people of his charge ? Hence the true itinerant must 
ever feel, more than the settled pastor, that whatever he does for his people must 
be done quickly and with all his might. — Editor. 

Wesley as an Itinekant. 293 

polished society, and an admiring congregation, are very pleas- 
ant, perhaps too pleasant for the highest spiritual development 
of the incumbent. It is a hard saying, it may be, but eliminate 
the element of self-denial from the ministerial life and labor — 
make it attractive to ambition, tempting to avarice, comfortable 
for sloth — then we may prepare to write " Ichabod " upon our 
temples. " Leaving father and mother, and wife and children, 
and houses and lands," meant something, as our Saviour said 
it ; and the effort to harmonize the not doing these things with 
the full discharge of ministerial obligation is a hazardous ex- 
periment. Contrasting itinerancy with every plan, the compara- 
tive results ought to settle the question as to which is most 
efficient in extending the kingdom of Christ. The facts ex- 
clude debate. The evils of a long-continued pastorate are so 
great, and so inherent and inseparable, as very often to necessi- 
tate the very changes the theory and system proposed to avoid, 
and with this immense disadvantage, that there is no place for 
the ejected and no applicant for the vacancy. 

Mr. Wesley's itinerant life is without a parallel in the history 
of the Church. The work he performed is one of the marvels 
of human endurance and of providential support. He illus- 
trated his own ideas, and exceeded all his followers in travels, 
sermons, and results. He could not be idle. He demonstrated 
the possibilities of his system by a zeal that never flagged, and 
an enthusiasm that warmed his age. None of his sons have 
equaled him in incessant movement, unwearied toil, and extent 
of operation. He saw itinerancy in all its phases, exhausted 
its trials, tested all its capabilities, and, in despite of its weari- 
ness, exposures, and. privations, left it a legacy to his people. 
It is consecrated by wisdom, age, and success. Let us main- 
tain it in all its integrity, and send it on unimpaired to the gen- 
erations to come. 


WESLEY'S character, so interesting in private life, is only 
fully unfolded in the vast theater of his public activity. 
To speak the truth, his power resided chiefly in his preaching ; 
by it he acted upon the masses, and by it he scattered broadcast 
over the face of England those imperishable seeds which con- 
tained the germs of a great future. In presence of the almost 
fabulous success that crowned his labors, a question occurs 
which seems at first sight an insoluble enigma. How did he, 
the Oxford graduate, who was all his life long a devoted stu- 
dent of the classical authors, and who read on horseback the 
original of Homer and Yirgil — how did he become the street- 
preacher, the popular orator of the masses ? Love for souls, 
that pure and noble passion enkindled in the heart by the love 
of God, alone accounts for this otherwise incomprehensible 
phenomenon. This alone can explain, also, the indefatigable 
perseverance which prolonged such an apostleship beyond the 
bounds of half a century. 

The conflicts of fifty years revealed great qualities in "Wesley, 
of which a military commander might well have been proud. 
Indeed, the Anglo-Saxon race, with those practical qualities 
which constitute its distinguishing feature, never had a better 
representative than he. He knew how to yoke into the service 
of his religious principles the strong will and the unconquera- 
ble tenacity which have brought such success to English colo- 
nies. He vanquished the ill-will of the people by a persever- 
ance which stood the test of all kinds of opposition. 

What gave his preaching so much of originality was his per- 
fect frankness. It may be truly said of Wesley that he "spoke 
as one having authority." He never flattered his audience; 

Wesley as a Populak Peeacher. 295 

sometimes, indeed, as he tells us himself, he " spoke strong, 
rough words ; " he knew nothing of the' art of disguising his 
thoughts, in order to render them more acceptable. His con- 
cise and expressive language aimed directly at its object, and 
said exactly what he meant. Many instances have been given 
of the almost magical effect produced on the minds of the peo- 
ple by his incisive utterances. Still more effectually, perhaps, 
did he wield this power over individuals. When he fixed his 
gaze on one of his hearers it was a very rare thing if the heart 
did not quail beneath his glance. Sometimes a man would en- 
ter his congregation with his hat on his head, fully determined 
to put him to silence ; but his countenance would change and 
his cheek pale as he encountered the keen eye that seemed to 
pierce to the depths of his being. It must not, however, be 
supposed that this influence of "Wesley upon the masses in any 
degree resembled insolence or haughtiness. His authority was 
of a purely moral kind, and was attained through the slow but 
unerring operation of Christian faith and zeal. 

It must be added that in many respects Wesley was admira- 
bly qualified for his mission as a popular preacher. Besides 
that eagle glance and that flowing and flexible voice, he pos- 
sessed qualities of mind most highly valued by the people, name- 
ly, clearness and precision. None knew better than he did 
how to familiarize the loftiest truths to the lowliest minds. 
None knew better how to employ a sprightly repartee or a 
happy expression, so that when a long harangue would have 
failed in its object, the witty proverb penetrated like the point 
of a sword. 

But let us endeavor to form a just idea of Wesley's oratorical 
ability. In the open street, and in the pulpit of the University 
of Oxford, the style of this great preacher was simple and level 
to the understanding of every individual. His reasoning was 
logical and nervous ; and, having once admitted his premises, 
you were carried away in spite of yourself, and compelled to 
accept the consequences he deduced from them. His argu- 

296 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

mentation flowed in a full stream, but it was not circuitous, 
and did not overflow its proper channels. It was not over- 
loaded with the vain and frivolous ornaments by the use of 
which some seek to veil the poverty of their thoughts, nor with 
those tangled digressions which hide from the hearer the prin- 
cipal aim of the discourse. His sole business was to produce 
conviction ; hence he put himself face to face with his oppo- 
nent, and never neglected to answer his objections, generally 
showing how contrary they were to common sense. His aim 
was direct ; he despised circumlocution, and never mistook 
rhetorical artifice for argument. 

Though a profound logician, Wesley was far from being a 
wearisome dogmatist. Let him be compared with Tillotson or 
Barrow, and it will be easy to understand the vast progress 
preaching has made through his influence, and the great revo- 
lution he has effected in a department that had remained sta- 
tionary since the sixteenth century. He did not, like them, 
conduct an argument for argument's sake, straining himself to 
prove, by a grand array of syllogisms, some commonplace of 
doctrine or morality which nobody dreamed of disputing. He 
daringly confronted those subjects which were the most strongly 
controverted, and at the same time, in his view, the most funda- 
mental to Christianity. The subjects of which he treated were 
among the loftiest and gravest that can be brought into the 
Christian pulpit ; yet they were stated with so much frankness, 
resolved into their simplest forms with such admirable ease, 
expounded and discussed with such marvelous lucidity, that 
the hearer, however uncultivated, was captivated and subdued, 
and with difficulty withstood the running fire of such power- 
ful and burning eloquence. The rhetorical style of Tillotson 
and his imitators resembles those heavy batteries which, plant- 
ed on the heights of some lofty citadel, await the approach of the 
enemy, and only prove their efficacy when he complacently ad- 
vances within the range of their fire. Wesley, on the other hand, 
resembles the light artillery composed of field-pieces, which 

"Wesley as a Populae Peeachee. 297 

follow the enemy to his farthest intrenchments. His sermons 
were generally short ;* his sprightly and compact diction always 
proceeded straight forward ; his vivid thoughts came clearly 
before the eye of the mind, and frequently took the form of 
an aphorism, which engraved itself upon the memory of the 

Wesley has the great merit of having popularized, and, if I 
may venture to say so, humanized, that austere divinity for- 
merly known only to the initiated, and denominated logic. He 
had a real respect for the people, which is utterly wanting in 
those preachers who talk to them as if they were children, giv- 
ing them reasons that they do not want, or seeking to create a 
merely morbid sensibility on which no durable structure can be 
reared. The people insensibly rose to "Wesley's level, because 
he knew how to come down to theirs. 

As an orator Wesley was only in some regards inferior to 
Whitefield. For, besides this logical faculty of which we have 
just been speaking, he possessed an incisiveness of speech 
which was lacking in Whitefield, so that he sometimes carried 
conviction to hearts that had remained unmoved by the appeals 
of his eloquent friend. John Nelson tells us that he had often 
listened to Whitefield's sermons, and had been charmed by 
them as by strains of incomparable music ; he admired the 
preaching and loved the preacher, but no more. Wesley's 
preaching produced a totally different effect. Let us hear the. 
testimony of this eye-witness. " As soon as he had mounted 
the platform," he says, "he stroked back his long hair, and 
turned his face toward where I stood ; I thought he fixed his 
eyes upon me. This single look filled me with inexpressible 
anguish ; before he opened his mouth my heart beat like the 
pendulum of a clock, and when he spoke I thought his whole 
discourse was aimed at me." 

It was, in fact, a striking characteristic of Wesley's preach- 

* Wesley's sermons in the open air were often more than an hour — not unfre- 
quently as much as three hours — in length. — Editor. 

298 The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 

ing that his arguments were constantly interrupted by appeals 
to the conscience and the heart. No sooner had he by thor- 
ough discussion discovered and dislodged a stone from the 
quarry of truth, than as a wise master-builder he began work- 
ing it into its place in the spiritual edifice. "While his con- 
temporaries resembled a body of antiquarians, painfully occu- 
pied in collecting a store of rusty armor wherewith to establish 
a museum, Wesley no sooner lighted upon these disused 
weapons than he remodeled them for present use and turned 
them against the foe. He never forgot that he had to do with 
souls whom he must save from the wrath to come. When he 
argues — as may be seen in his printed sermons — it is not to 
exhibit the frivolous spectacle of a brilliant theological or phil- 
osophical tournament ; it is to establish upon immovable found- 
ations the structure he wishes to build. His proofs are more 
commonly biblical than philosophical, and are addressed to the 
conscience rather than to the intellect alone. 

The applications of Wesley's sermons are never indirect, but 
always straightforward and aggressive. By a frequent and 
felicitous use of the second person singular he throws into his 
appeals an extraordinary power, and this habit, together with 
that of the employment of a great number of scriptural expres- 
sions, not formally cited, but inwrought into the texture of his 
periods, communicates .to his sermons an archaic tinge as well 
as a salient energy, which often recall the preaching of the 

The success of Wesley's preaching gives us a lofty idea of 
the character of the Anglo-Saxon race, to whose moral renova- 
tion he devoted his life. The nation must have retained great 
and noble instincts in the depths of its moral being, otherwise 
such strong meat would never have suited it, and the success 
of such preaching would never have amounted to more than a 
momentary enthusiasm. A people capable of appreciating 
such sermons as Wesley's must have been a great one. Com- 
pare the Anglo-Saxon race with another at the same epoch, 

Wesley as a Popular Preacher. 299 

crowding around those worldly abbots who were such favor- 
ites at Versailles, and one may well ask, Where in the latter is 
the life, the vigor, the future, in a word, which distinguished 
the former ? The one, polite and amiable, will hear no gospel 
except that of the Vicar of Savoy, and, without suspecting it, 
is on the verge of a bloody revolution; the other, rude and 
coarse, receives the teachings of Wesley and his coadjutors, 
and gradually rises in the scale of being till it attains real 
greatness, and is ready for the work to which God, in the 
order of his providence, has called it. 


IKDISCKLMINATE eulogy is but little honorable to the 
eulogized, and less to the eulogist ; but a correct portrayal 
of the ambitions and accomplishments of a good leader among 
men may be of service to all who are inclined to " go and do 
likewise." A portraiture of John Wesley and his work that 
should omit a proper description of what he did as an educa- 
tor would be so incomplete as to be practically false. Educa- 
tion was a large part of his life's great work. 

Observe his qualifications for it. He was a highly accom- 
plished scholar. From early childhood to the age of twenty- 
three he was a pupil " under tutors and governors," passing 
through all the various grades of scholarship, from the primary 
school to a fellowship, and almost practically to the headship, 
of a college, in the most famous University in the world. He 
lost as little time, perhaps, as any man known in history ; none 
from youthful indiscretions, almost none from want of health, 
and had early reduced his life to systematic industry. He was 
placed in the Charter House School, London, at the age of 
ten ; entered Christ Church College, Oxford, when seventeen ; 
received the degree of M.A. at the age of twenty-four; and for 
nine years was a fellow of Lincoln College, where, some of the 
time, by the choice of the professors, he was vice-rector. This 
alone would indicate that he was a proficient in the university 
studies then pursued, in the Greek and Latin languages and 
literature, in the dialectics of Aristotle, in the history and phi- 
losophy then embraced in the ordinary college curriculum. 
After his election to the fellowship he pursued his studies 
systematically and earnestly for several years, adding to his 
previous acquirements German, French, Italian, Spanish, 

Wesley as an Educator. 301 

Hebrew, and Arabic, and some study of the mathematics, 
embracing Euclid and the writings of Sir Isaac Newton. 
He could converse readily in Latin and German, and con- 
duct church service in French and Italian. He was an orig- 
inal observer, a close student, a general reader, and a ready 

Such a man must have had strong convictions about education. 
It would be natural, indeed, for him to entertain a prejudice 
in favor of schools. His " idols of the tribe " would be likely 
to be books and established forms of pedagogic culture. What 
sympathy could such a man have with the untutored thought 
and speech of rustics ? He never talked their dialect ; from 
early childhood he had never eaten their bread. But for- 
tunately, nay, rather, providentially, his earliest years were 
spent under a thatched roof, and he also became the subject of 
a radical christianization, deeper and more thorough than had 
been common in his generation, which made him feel that he 
was brother to every human being, and that the great object of 
his life should be to win as many as he could irrespective of all 
earthly distinctions, as trophies to Christ. 

It was not poverty, nor love of adventure, that drove him 
from the most beautiful classic retreats in the world to a vil- 
lage of log huts in the edge of the American wilderness. He 
was free to choose between several comfortable posts in his 
native land ; high honors were fairly within his reach. He 
had had successful experience as a curate of two or three 
parishes ; the rectorship of Epworth was supposed to be within 
his reach.* But God had a greater mission for him, and in- 
spired him with a restlessness never to be satisfied till he 
should find his place. 

We, therefore, soon see this Fellow of Lincoln College, who 
has never known any labor but that of a student, now a 

* The only parish of which he was ever the rector was Christ Church parish, 
Savannah, Georgia. He left Savannah to claim the wide world as his parish. — 

302 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

chaplain among the heterogeneous population gathered from 
several nations in the then infant colony of Georgia. Here 
the university Fellow immediately opened a school and em- 
ployed for it a regular teacher. He himself gave religious 
instruction to all the pupils weekly. He also established an- 
other school, which met on Sundays, in which he and others 
gave instruction on the Bible and practical religion. This 
was really a Sunday-school, established forty-three years be- 
fore Robert Raikes, who was then a babe in his mother's 
arms, opened a similar school in Gloucester, England. This 
school was held in the church, and had the best elements of 
a modern Sunday-school. Its instruction was religious, not 

The story of Wesley's brief life in Georgia and his return 
to England is well known. He returned, not to the University, 
though he still held his fellowship, nor to assume the limited 
duties of a parish. He was soon the subject of a religious ex- 
perience that more fully satisfied him, and concentrated his 
energies as never before. Then at the age of thirty-five, after 
all his long preliminary preparation, scholastic and religious, 
he was to enter upon a work the visible effects of which were 
to be as boundless as the world and as lasting as time.- His 
preparation for his great work was about as long and thorough 
as was that of Milton for his. 

I have seen an original portrait of John Wesley, taken short- 
ly after this time to satisfy the solicitations of one of his local 
preachers, who brought it to America and preserved it in his 
family, and it is now in the museum of the Syracuse Univer- 
sity. With well-rounded features, not so prominent as in later 
years, with his own abundant locks slightly tinged with gray, 
the picture is much like the ideal which painters have given 
to the beloved disciple, John. 

It was at this time that Wesley began to manifest his strong 
interest in education, not, as some would say, second only to 
religion, but actually one with and inseparable from it. 

Wesley as an Educator. 303 

His long experience in Lincoln College, where he had not 
been idle, but in addition to professional lectures and presiding 
over the rhetorical and logical discussions of the students, he 
had pursued special courses of study, and given particular 
instruction to pupils, and his experience and observation in 
America and Germany, prepared him for the demand that was 
about to arise. Had he undervalued education, or — while he 
saw and felt its inadequacy alone to meet the demands of the 
individual heart or of the Church — had he not by example and 
precept earnestly encouraged it among his people, it is certain 
that the Methodist Societies wo aid not long have held together, 
and the great revival which he introduced would have rapidly 
subsided, and probably have had no historian. 

In this paper there is room only for a presentation of the 
general features of his educational work. Nothing would be 
added to the correctness and vividness of the picture by present- 
ing the detail. All competent to appreciate it can fill out the 
history for themselves. 

As early as 1740 he obtained possession of a school at Kings- 
wood, which, with some changes of forms and situation and 
enlargement, has existed from that day to this. What a cata- 
logue of worthy names its records present ! After 17-18 Wes- 
ley's interest in the school at Kingswood greatly increased, for 
at that time it was enlarged, and systematic efforts were made 
for the instruction of the children of the itinerant preachers. 
The motto of America's oldest college is " Ghristo et Ecele- 
sicB."" The inscription on the front of the old Kingswood 
school was, "In Gloriam Dei Optirni Maximi, in TJsum 
Ecdesioe et ReipublicoB ; " and in Hebrew letters, " Jehovah- 

Immediately after the enlargement of this school Wesley 
entered upon his work of educational authorship. Eight years 
before he had published a tract, written, indeed, by another 
man, in which the study of Latin and Greek, and the ordinary 
education of the day, are spoken of with not a little disappro- 

804 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

bation and sarcasm ; but when lie came to lay down for his 
own school courses of study, he provided for the study of En- 
glish, French, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, geography, history, 
rhetoric, logic, ethics, arithmetic, algebra, geometry, physics, 
and music. He employed six masters or professors, and insti- 
tuted an original method which probably made it the best 
school of the grade in England. It failed to be generally 
recognized as such only because it belonged to a sect then 
every- where spoken against. To provide for the wants of this 
school John "Wesley himself prepared several text-books. The 
first was "A Short Latin Grammar," soon followed by "A 
Short English Grammar," which, thirteen years afterward, 
was much enlarged and improved. 

The publication of this short Latin grammar really marks a 
new epoch in the study of Latin. Previous to that time the 
Latin grammars employed in England were all in the Latin lan- 
guage, useless without a living teacher, and really made the study 
of the language unnecessarily difficult and unpleasant. But 
this example, then set by Wesley, is now universally followed. 

This is but one instance of many in which the striking and 
fearless originality of Wesley is seen. Mebuhr has been styled 
the father of philosophical history, because in his lectures, de- 
livered at Berlin, in 1810, he subjected the strange stories of 
the old Latin historians to criticism, and drew the fine between 
the mythical and the true ; but Wesley, in his journal, as early 
as 1771, in his remarks on Hooke's '* Roman History," shows 
that he had already formed the same opinion. And now, when 
Wesley came to write " A Short Roman History " of 155 jDages 
in 1773, and also " A Concise History of England," from the 
earliest times to the death of George III., in four volumes of, 
respectively, 335, 359, 348, and 292 pages, he evinced the same 
critical acumen and recognition of the victories and failures of 
peace as well as of war which have since his time revolution- 
ized the style of historical writings. I do not claim that Wes- 
ley's grammars of the Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and French 

Wesley as an Educator. 305 

languages, and his histories, deserve to be ranked with the best 
later productions ; but simply that they were pioneers, not only 
superior to, but generically different from, any that preceded 
them, and also like those which now enjoy the approval of 
the best scholars and practical educators. In the writing of 
educational text-books, as in the establishment and improve- 
ment of Sunday-schools, the publication of tracts for the people, 
the commendation of the disuse of intoxicants, the establish- 
ment of an itinerant ministry yet held under strict regimen, 
and in several other things, he anticipated the thoughts of later 
times, and originated forces and machinery which now enjoy 
general, if not universal, approval and use. He was able, usually, 
also- to make at least a few, sometimes many, perceive that he 
was right. 

It is due to truth to observe, that notwithstanding his varied 
scholarship he did sometimes manifest a sympathy with those 
who undervalued the ordinary university curriculum of study 
of his day, and expressed himself in favor of condensing the 
study of Latin and Greek into less time, and of devoting more 
attention to science, ethics, logic, and practical knowledge. 
But the books which he wrote, and the courses of study which 
he laid down for the college at Kingswood, show what his real 
convictions were. 

He was too great a man to be always consistent with himself, 
except on the broad principle of professing what he believed : 
but often he rectified his observations, and discarded and 
changed opinions, according to evidence and investigation. 
His interest in education never abated nor diminished, but 
rather increased in his later years. 

In addition to the grammars and histories above mentioned 
he published, in 1753, what he called " The Complete English 
Dictionary, explaining most of those hard words which are 
found in the best English writers." This was two years before 
Dr. Samuel Johnson published his great English Dictionary, 
which shows that Wesley was attempting to fill an actual 

306 The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 

demand. But though Johnson's Dictionary just then appeared, 
"Wesley's Dictionary reached a second edition in 1764. For a 
few years nearly all of "Wesley's publications were educa- 
tional. He prepared editions of selections from several class- 
ical writers, with brief original notes. The first was entitled 
" Mathurini Corderii Golloquia Selecta. In Usum Jv.ven- 
tutis Christian®. Edidit EcclesicB Anglicanw Presbyter." 
This was followed by his "Historic/, et Prcecejyta" "Instruc- 
tiones Pueriles" and editions of Selections from Sallust, Ovid, 
Phsedrus, Erasmus, Cornelius ISTepos, Juvenal, Persius, and 
Martial. In all there were six small volumes of Latin authors. 
He also wrote an original work on elocution, the oldest we have 
seen in the English language, entitled, " Directions concerning 
Pronunciation and Gesture," which, though condensed, con- 
tains about all that one really needs to know to speak efficiently 
before the public, so far as manner is concerned. He was 
especially opposed to vociferation and ranting. That practiced 
parliamentarian and critic, Horace Walpole, having listened 
to one of Wesley's sermons, pronounced him "wondrous clever, 
but as evidently an actor as was Garrick." The preacher 
was too rapid and too enthusiastic to suit "Walpole's taste. 
Another school book prepared by Mr. "Wesley was " A Com- 
pendium of Logic," originally of only 33 pages, but in suc- 
cessive editions greatly enlarged. This book also is worthy of 
notice as a pioneer in the English language. His small work 
on Electricity, based on the discoveries of Dr. Benjamin 
Eranklin, which lip to that time the British Royal Society had 
not deigned to notice, though afterward it gave to them and 
their author great attention, illustrates two facts in Wesley's 
character — his promptness to see new truths in science as well 
as in religion, and his fearlessness in publishing his opinions 
whether the public approved or not. He seems to have spent 
many hours in original experiments in electricity. His work 
on electricity was followed by one that cost him much of his 
leisure time, if he had any " leisure," as its preparation was pro- 

Wesley as an Educator. 307 

tracted through many years. This was entitled, " A Survey of 
the "Wisdom of God in the Creation ; or. A Compendium of 
Natural Philosophy.-" In five volumes. This large and truly 
valuable book was published in his old age, and for many 
years had a wide circulation. Among his educational books 
may be mentioned an " Extract of Milton's Paradise Lost, with 
Notes," which also reached a second edition. 

Let any one collect these books, original and edited, to- 
gether, and calculate the study and labor requisite to prepare 
and write them ; and then let him consider that during every 
week while he was preparing them Wesley preached on an 
average thrice a day, and that during those years he traveled 
thousands of miles, mostly on horseback, and that at the same 
time he was preparing other books, practical, homiletical, con- 
troversial, and attending to the immense detail that must 
have come before him, and one may form some conception of 
the prodigious ability and industry of the man. 

But we draw this imperfect picture, not to eulogize the ability 
and industry of this remarkable man, but to show what seems 
hitherto to have been overlooked, that he deserves a very high 
rank among educators. He attempted too much both in relig- 
ion and education to produce any one book that, on its own 
merits alone, will be recognized as a masterpiece in literature. 
Many of his writings were designed to serve a temporary pur- 
pose, and only his fame as one of the world's greatest men will 
perpetuate their memory ; but they were original, appropriate, 
strong, efficient, and completely served their purpose. They 
opened the way for their successors. 

Others, solely or principally devoted to education, have 
entered the field and supplied the demand with works more 
accurately and fully prepared ; but Wesley first, felt the de- 
mand in many instances, and first supplied it for the thousands 
of pupils which the great religious revival of the eighteenth 
century had created. Nothing so stimulates the intellect as 
true Christianity. A revival always fills the schools. Science 

308 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

and Christianity are sisters. And in this revival religion and 
education had the same teacher. 

It is noticeable, too, that nearly all of Mr. Wesley's educa- 
tional books passed through several editions. This alone would 
have been a great honor. 

The provision which he made for the education of the 
preachers, even after they had entered upon their office, de- 
serves mention also as a novelty, and as the foundation of a 
practice still largely observed both in Great Britain and Amer- 
ica, and wherever Methodism extends. 

While, therefore, it must always be understood that the chief 
work which God permitted Wesley to accomplish was to orig- 
inate and largely to direct the great revival of primitive Chris- 
tianity in modern times, it should also be noted that he shone 
more as a scholar even than as a divine, and that he was no less 
a pioneer in education than in ecclesiastical organization. If he 
deserves a rank second to none among the leaders in the 
Church, at least with such men as Wiclif and Luther and 
Augustine, so, also, for fertility of invention and commanding 
influence on succeeding generations, he deserves to rank 
among educators with Milton and Locke and Pestalozzi and 
Froebel, and others the most useful and famous of his own and 
other lands. 

We must not fail to notice that the high estimation of men- 
tal discipline and instruction entertained by him has exerted 
an abiding influence on all the religious denominations that 
have sprung from his labors. Kingswood school has expanded 
and been multiplied into colleges, theological schools, and aca- 
demic institutions of every grade. Every Methodist body in 
Great Britain and her colonies, in the other nations of Europe, 
in the United States of America, and in all the mission fields, 
recognizes its duty to provide for and encourage schools.* 

* Edward Everett, in his day, said that there was no Church in the United 
States so successfully engaged in the cause of education as the Methodist Chureh. 
— Editor. 

Wesley as a^ Educator. 309 

In John Wesley there was a wonderful combination of qual- 
ities well balanced. His liberality and candor were prevented 
from degenerating into latitudinarianism, his love of order into 
ecclesiasticism, and his zeal into fanaticism, by what he himself 
called " common sense," and also by a high degree of harmoni- 
ous culture controlled by an abiding consciousness of the love 
of God. 

Methodism was so original and radical in its convictions and 
modes of operation, so inclined to cast aside what seemed to 
be useless or impediments, so bent on immediate effects, that 
at first many of its chief men were disposed to undervalue the 
discipline of the schools. It was providential that John Wes- 
ley was a man of thorough culture, and that he had the power 
to discriminate between the substantial and the accidental in 
education as in religion. He was, therefore, conservative and 
reformatory ; one of the most successful promoters and im- 
provers of education of the age in which he lived. 


IN a work professing to bring ont all the aspects of Wesley's 
many-sided life, his use of the press and his voluminous 
contributions to the literature of his age must not be forgotten. 
In a brief paper upon this subject it should be premised that 
he was not by choice an author. The all-pervading consecra- 
tion of his days to his life-work of evangelism prevented his 
adoption of literature as a profession, and deprived him both 
of the leisure and of the will to graduate among the prizemen 
of letters. All he wrote was subordinate to his supreme design, 
and not a little of it was wrung from him by the necessities, con- 
troversial or otherwise, which arose in the progress of his work. 
Still, impressed as he was that God had sent him upon a mis- 
sion of testimony, and casting about for all possible means of 
usefulness, he could not overlook the press — that mighty agent 
which molds, for weal or woe, so large a portion of mankind. 
It is not, therefore, surprising that he began early to write and 
to compile, in order that he might at once enlarge the constit- 
uency to whom he could speak about the things of God, and 
secure that permanent influence by which printing perpetuates 
mind, and by which the appeal or entreaty goes plaintively 
pleading on long after the living voice is hushed in the silence 
of the grave. 

There was something in. the state of things around him 
which operated as a constraint in this regard. England, in the 
reigns of the first two Georges, had fallen into a sad state of 
religious degeneracy. If it be true that the literature of any 
age is a mirror in which the spirit of the age is reflected, the 

* The writer cheerfully acknowledges his indebtedness to a series of articles on 
Wesley's Use of the Press, from the pen of the late Rev. S. Romilly Hall. 

Wesley and His Literature. 31.1 

image presented of the early Georgian era is not " beautiful ex- 
ceedingly." Pope's pantheism divided the fashionable world 
with the bolder infidelity of Bolingbroke. The loose wit of 
Congreve was said to be the " only prop of the declining stage." 
Smollett and Fielding were the stars in the firmanent of fiction ; 
and of literary divines, the most conspicuous were Swift and 
Sterne. Young wrote his "Night Thoughts" about the same 
period, but his life was not equal to his poetry. He who sang 
with rapture of the glories of heaven had a passion for the 
amusements of earth, and he exhibited the " prose of piety," 
which he reprobates, by his undignified applications for prefer- 
ment ; applications so persistent as to elicit from Archbishop 
Seeker the rebuke, that "his fortune and reputation raised 
him above the need of advancement, and his sentiments, surely, 
above any great desire for it." The literature of the Churches, 
properly so called, was in some aspects equally degenerate. It 
was a literature of masculine thought, of consummate ability, of 
immense erudition, and of scholarly and critical taste. To this 
the names of Warburton, Jortin, Waterland, and especially 
Butler, bear sufficient witness. But while there was much 
light, there was little heat. Those were great hearts which 
were felt to throb in the works of Howe, of Barrow, and of the 
Puritans, but in their successors the heart element was largely 
wanting. Spiritual religion — the informing soul of Church 
literature — was hardly a matter of belief ; indeed, in some 
cases it was a matter of derision. The doctrine of justification 
by faith, that articulum stantis vel cadentis ecclesice, was cari- 
catured as a doctrine against good works in not a few of the 
treatises of the time. Lower motives were appealed to by 
popular divines. " Obedience, moderation in amusements, 
prayer, resignation, and the love of God," were enforced in 
discourses preached in St. Paul'? and in Oxford, " on the 
ground of the reasonableness on which they rest, and the 
advantages which they secure." Shaftesbury's "Virtue its 
own Reward," was thus echoed from metropolitan pulpits — 

312 The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 

"Virtue must be built upon interest, that is, our interest 
upon the whole." There was, indeed, a narrowing of theolog- 
ical thought until it was almost circumscribed by questions of 
evidence, and, as has been well said by Dr. Stoughton, " Mira- 
cles were appealed to as the seals of Christianity in the first 
century, but the work of the Holy Spirit on the souls of men 
in the eighteenth was pronounced an idle dream." 

It may well be conceived that upon a fervent soul like 
Wesley's, just awakened to the importance of spiritual 
things, and longing to employ every available resource in his 
Master's service, the sense of the influence of the press, and 
the conviction that it was being abused, or at best worked 
for inferior uses, would be an obligation to labor for its rescue, 
and for its supreme devotion to the cause of Christ. The 
singleness of his aim in authorship is a marked characteristic. 
He wrote neither for fame nor for emolument, but solely to 
do good. The rationale of his life may be given in his own re- 
markable words : " To candid, reasonable men, I am not afraid 
to lay open what have been the inmost thoughts of my heart. 
I have thought, I am a creature of a day, passing through life 
as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit come from God 
and returning to God ; just hovering over the great gulf till, 
a few moments hence, no more seen, I drop into an un- 
changeable eternity." Thus consecrated, he desired to attain 
and utilize all knowledge, and he adds, "what I thus learn, 
that I teach." The same spirit led him to be independent of 
any affectation, whether of subject or style : of set purpose he 
cultivated - plainness, " using words easy to be understood." 
" If I observe any stiff expression I throw it out, neck and 
shoulders." " I could even now [in his old age] write as 

floridly and rhetorically as even the admired Dr. B -, but I 

dare not ; because I seek the honor that cometh from God 
only. I dare no more write in a fine style than wear a fine 
*oat. But were it otherwise — had I time to spare — I should still 
write just as I do." "Whether this estimate of his own power 

Wesley and His Literature. 313 

to rival Blair or Massillon be correct or not, (and diversity of 
opinion on that point is not treason,) the complete subordina- 
tion of the scholar and the critic, of the man of culture and 
the man of taste, to the one purpose of extensive usefulness, 
cannot fail to win the admiration of right-thinking minds ; 
displaying, as it does, a heroism of self-abnegation which could 
mark only one of the highest styles of men. Dr. Johnson says, 
" A voluntary descent from the dignity of science is, perhaps, 
the hardest lesson that humility can teach." This voluntary 
descent John Wesley made that he might benefit and bless the 
world. The first time he ventured to print any thing, in 1733, 
he published a " Collection of Forms of Prayer " for his pupils 
at the University, and for the poor who were visited by the 
early Methodists at Oxford. He wrote on, amid incessant toil 
and travels, well-nigh without an interval, for more than fifty 
years, making a recreation and a privilege of his labors, until, 
at eventide, almost with his dying breath, he lingered in the 
Beulah-land to express a desire " that his sermon on ' the Love 
of God ' should be scattered abroad and given to every body." 

Few but those who have studied the matter have any idea 
either of the number or of the variety of Wesley's writings. 
To enumerate his works would be a tax even upon a book- 
worm's memory. Their titles would swell into a good-sized 
catalogue, and the variety of subjects touched upon in his 
original or selected volumes would almost suggest an encyclo- 
pedia. Beckoning his abridgments and compilations, more than 
two hundred volumes proceeded from his fertile pen. Gram- 
mars, exercises, dictionaries, compendiums, sermons and notes, 
a voluminous Christian Library, and a miscellaneous monthly 
magazine, tracts, addresses, answers, apologies, works polem- 
ical, classical, poetic, scientific, political, were poured forth in 
astonishing succession, not in learned leisure, but in the midst 
of the busiest life of the age — for the industrious writer was 
an intrepid evangelist and a wise administrator, a sagacious 
counselor and a loving friend; gave more advice than John 

314 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

Newton ; wrote more letters than Horace Walpole ; and man- 
aged, a wise and absolute ruler, the whole concern of a Society 
which grew in his life-time to upwards of seventy thousand souls. 
It is necessary, if we would rightly estimate Wesley's use of 
the press, to remind ourselves that he wrote under none of 
those advantages on which authors of note and name float 
themselves nowadays into renown. There was but a scanty 
literary appetite. The voracious love of books, which is char- 
acteristic of the present age, did not exist. Here and there 
were those prescient of its coming, who dreamed of a time 
when a cry should arise from the people, waxing louder and 
louder until it became as the plaint of a nation's prayer, " Give 
us knowledge, or we die." But these were the seers of their 
generation, and they were few. The masses had not awakened 
from the mental slumber of ages. The taste for reading had 
to be created and fed. Even if men had wished to make ac- 
quaintance with master-minds, their thoughts were only given 
forth in costly volumes beyond the means of the poor. 
Though there had been some improvement since those days of 
famine, when " a load of hay " was given " for a chapter in 
James," nothing, or but little, had been done to bring whole- 
some literature within the reach of the hamlet as well as of the 
hall. So far as we can ascertain, the first man to write for 
the million, and to publish so cheaply as to make his works ac- 
cessible, was John Wesley. Those who rejoice in the cheap 
press, in the cheap serial, in the science-made-easy, which, 
if he so choose, keep the working man of the present day 
abreast of the highest thought and culture of the age, ought 
never to forget the deep debt of obligation which is owed to 
him who first ventured into what was then a hazardous and un- 
profitable field. The man who climbs by a trodden road up 
the steeps of Parnassus, or drinks of the waters of Helicon, will 
surely think gratefully of him whose toil made the climbing 
easy, and cleared the pathway to the spring. The harvest-man, 
who reaps amid the plenty and the singing, has not earned half 

Wesley and His Literature. 315 

the reward due to him who, alone, beneath the gray wintry sky, 
went out for the scattering of the seed. We claim for John 
Wesley, and that beyond gainsaying, the gratitude of all lovers 
of human progress, if only for his free and generous use of the 
press, for the loving purpose which prompted him to cheapen 
his wealth of brain that others might share it, and for the 
forecasting sagacity which led him to initiate a system of pop- 
ular instruction which, with all their advantages and with all 
their boast, the present race of authors have scarcely been able 
to improve. 

In noticing a little more in detail the nature of John Wes- 
ley's works we feel bewildered with their variety. He deals 
with almost every useful subject, and, considering his incessant 
public labors, the wonder cannot be repressed that he wrote so 
much, and that he wrote, for the most part, so well. 

His writing of tracts — short essays, narratives, letters, or 
treatises, which could be read without much expenditure of 
time — was a favorite occupation with him. The Society for 
Promoting Christian Knowledge was in existence before he 
began, and one of the objects of its foundation was to disperse, 
both at home and abroad, Bibles and tracts on religious sub- 
jects. Fifty years later another society was started, with a 
similar object and name, but on a wider basis, and with a freer 
sphere of action. It was not, however, until the close of the 
century, that tract societies, as such, came into being ; and 
though, strangely enough, the jubilee memorial of the Relig- 
ious Tract Society makes no mention of his name, John Wesley 
was a diligent writer and a systematic distributer of tracts fifty 
years before that society was born. 

In 1745, the year of the Stuart rebellion, he says : " We had 
within a short time given away some thousands of little tracts 
among the common people, and it pleased God thereby to 
provoke others to jealousy ; insomuch that the Lord Mayor had 
ordered a large quantity of papers, dissuading from cursing and 
swearing, to be printed and distributed among the train-bands." 

316 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

Wesley's preachers were furnished with these short, plain 
messengers of mercy, as part of the equipment with which 
their saddle-bags were stored. Regarding "a great book," 
as he quaintly said, as " a great evil," he used these " small 
arms " with great effect and perseverance throughout his unusu- 
ally lengthened life. Every thing he wrote was practical and 
timely. Particular classes were particularly addressed : A Word 
to a Drunkard, to a Sabbath-breaker, to a Swearer, to a Street- 
walker, tc a Smuggler, to a Condemned Malefactor ; A Word 
to a Freeholder, just before a General Election ; A Word to a 
Protestant when Romish Error was especially Rampant and 
Dangerous ; Thoughts on the Earthquake at Lisbon, " directed, 
not as I designed at first, to the small vulgar, but the great, to 
the learned, rich, and honorable heathens, commonly called 
Christians." These show that, while his quiver was full, his 
arrows were not pointless, and they were " sharp in the hearts 
of the King's enemies " all over the land. 

The circumstances under which some of the tracts were writ- 
ten invest them with much interest, while they illustrate the 
character of the man of one business, and show that one of his 
secrets of success was to be frugal of time as well as of words. 
He got wet through on a journey, and stayed at a halting-place to 
dry his clothes. " I took the opportunity," he says, " of writing 
A Word to a Freeholder." At an inn in Helvoetsluys, in Hol- 
land, detained by contrary winds, he took the ojDportunity of 
Avriting a sermon for the magazine. After a rough journey of 
ninety miles in one day, he required rest. " I rested, and tran- 
scribed the letter to Mr. Bailey." " The tide was in," in Wales, 
so that he could not pass over the sands. " I sat down in a lit- 
tle cottage for three or four hours and translated ' Aldrich's 
Logic' " These are but samples of his redemption of time for 
high practical uses, and of the conscientious generosity with 
which he crowded his moments for God's glory with works of 
usefulness and honor. 

Of his poetical publications it is not needful to write at 

Wesley and His Literature. 817 

length. They have spoken their own eulogy, and are still 
speaking it, in so many thousand hearts, that they need no 
elaborate praise. John "Wesley is not credited by his critics 
with much imagination, but he had that even balance of the 
faculties from which imagination cannot be absent, though it 
may be chastened and controlled by others. He was wise 
enough to know that "a verse may strike him who a ser- 
mon flies ;" and that as a ballad is said to have sung a mon- 
arch out of three kingdoms, the. power of spiritual song has 
often been of the essence of that "violence" which "the 
kingdom of heaven suffereth." Hence he began early to 
print collections of hymns, (the earliest known having been 
compiled at Savannah, and published at Charleston, during his 
stormy residence in Georgia,) and followed these, at intervals, 
by poetical publications for the space of fifty years. Among 
these were Moral and Sacred Poems ; Hymns for Children ; 
Hymns for the Use of Families ; Epistles ; Elegies ; Funeral 
Hymns ; Extracts from Herbert, and Milton, and Young ; 
Hymns with Tunes Annexed ; and Doctrinal Controversies 
Versified. The intensest pathos wailing forth in the " Cry 
of the Reprobate," the most caustic sarcasm lurking in the 
Hymns on God's Everlasting Love ; patriotism finding vent in 
"Song on the Occurrence of a Threatened Invasion." Wars, 
tumults, earthquakes, persecutions, birthdays, festivals, recre- 
ations, were all improved into verse. This summary will suf- 
fice to show the fertile variety of topics to which the sacred 
lyre was strung. Many of the verses were but of limited 
and temporary interest, but the supply for the service of 
song in the house of the Lord could not fail to present it- 
self to the foresight of the great evangelist as a pressing 
church necessity which must be adequately met. Hymnology 
may be said almost to have had its rise, as a worthy provis- 
ion for worship, with Watts and Wesley. Tate and Brady 
had been substituted for Sternhold and Hopkins, but with a 
vigorous church-life these faint and fading echoes of the 

318 The Wesley Memobial Volume. 

strains of the Hebrew Psalmist were felt to be insufficient. 
Isaac "Watts first realized the need, and did much to supply 
it. Then Charles "Wesley was raised up, endowed with the 
poetic genius, and enlivened with a cheerful godliness which 
found themes for its loftiest exercise. The hymns of both, 
and all others that were deemed evangelical and worthy, were 
gathered by the taste and skill of John Wesley, and under 
his prudent censorship, into a series of hymn books such as 
the Church of Christ had never seen before. The most cov- 
etous seeker after fame needs covet no higher than to have 
sent forth lyrics like these, treasured in the hearts of mul- 
titudes as their happiest utterances of religious hope and joy, 
chasing anxiety from the brow of the troubled, giving glow- 
ing songs in the night of weeping, and, in the case of many, 
gasped out with the failing breath as the last enemy fled 
beaten from the field. 

His homiletic writings, consisting of some hundred and 
forty sermons, were carefully revised and prepared for the 
press in some of those quiet retreats where, as it would seem, 
mainly for this purpose, he snatched a brief holiday from per- 
petual toil and travel. In the retirement of Kingswood, or 
under the roof of the Perronets, or at Newington, or Lewis- 
ham, he transcribed his well-weighed words. He regarded him- 
self pre-eminently as a preacher : this was the work for which 
he was raised up of God, and to this all else was subordinated: 
but he wished a longer ministry than could be compassed in 
sixty years, and accordingly the truths which, when uttered on 
Kennington Common or in the Moorfields had produced such 
marvelous effects, were revised and systematized, that they 
might preach in print to generations who lived too late to be 
subdued by the quiet earnestness of the speaker's voice. Wes- 
ley's sermons may be said to have been the earliest published 
system of experimental religion. The press had been used 
largely for printing sermons before ; critical light had been let 
in upon obscure passages of Scripture ; scholarly essays abound- 

Wesley and His Liter a.tuke. 819 

ed ; hoiniletic literature was rich in funeral sermons, the im- 
provement of passing incidents, and arguments for the external 
defense of the faith ; but no such plain, clear, pungent, practi- 
cal exhibition of the whole method of God's dealing with a 
sinner had ever enriched the literature of the English language. 
He was anointed to prophesy to a congregation of the dead, 
and he spake of the truths by which the dead can live, and 
spake with a prophet's singleness, self-unconsciousness, and 

His expository writings comprised " Botes " on the Old Tes- 
tament and on the New. It could hardly be that he could 
overlook, in his search for useful methods of doing good, helps 
to biblical interpretation and criticism. As 'in every thing he 
wrote, the nature and limits of his work were defined by the 
needs and leisure of those for whom he especially wrote. 
Hence he announces his design to be " barely to assist those who 
fear God in hearing and reading the Bible itself, by showing the 
natural sense of every part in as few and plain words as I can." 
Again, " I have endeavored to make the ' Notes ' as short as 
possible, that the comment may not obscure or swallow up the 
text." Not only did he study the means of the poor who 
could not purchase elaborate commentaries, and the lack of 
culture of those who were not able to understand them ; he 
wrote briefly and suggestively, with an educational design. 
" It is no part of my design to save either learned or unlearned 
men from the trouble of thinking. If so, I might, per- 
haps, write folios, too, which usually overlay rather than help 
the thought. On the contrary, my intention is to make them 
think, and assist them in thinking." His Notes on the Old 
Testament are mainly an abridgment of Poole's "Anno- 
tations," and Matthew Henry's " Commentary," and are so 
condensed as greatly to detract from their value. The notes 
on the New Testament were begun in the maturity of his 
powers, on the 6th January, 1754. His health had partially 
broken down under his exhausting labors, and he was ordered 

820 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

to the Hotwells, Clifton. There he began his work ; a work 
which he says he should never have attempted if he had not 
been " so ill as to be unable to travel and preach, and yet so 
well as to be able to read and write." Incidental references in 
his journal show how painfully he toiled to elicit and express 
the true mind of the Spirit in the word. Doddridge's " Fam- 
ily Expositor" and Heylin's "Theological Lectures" were 
carefully read, all the passages were compared with the orig- 
inal text, a task for which his own accurate knowledge of Greek 
eminently qualified him, and several improvements on the 
received version were suggested which have found favor with 
competent critics. By far the most valuable help, however, in 
his work, was furnished by the " Gnomon Eovi Testamenti " of 
the celebrated John Albert Bengel. Wesley became interpen- 
etrated with the spirit of Bengel's teaching, and it colored his 
exposition. He was, indeed, the first to recognize the claims of 
the great German critic to the notice of English theologians, 
as Bunsen and others have acknowledged. Five editions of 
the " l^otes " were published in John "Wesley's life-time, and 
they largely contributed to, maintain his early preachers in the 
soundness of the faith. Hartwell Home — no mean judge — 
gives high praise to them as being always judicious, accurate, 
spiritual, terse, and impressive. By their incorporation into the 
trust deeds of Methodist chapels, in which they are referred 
to, (along with certain sermons,) as the authorized articles of 
standard belief, they have secured, so long as British law is 
respected, the doctrinal integrity of the English Methodist 

Wesley used the press for educational purposes to a great 
extent. They utterly misconceive his character who suppose 
that he was an abetter or favorer of ignorance, or that he un- 
duly depreciated the intellectual, and unduly cultivated the 
emotional, part of the nature. Few men in any age have 
done more for the mental emancipation of their fellows. He 
was systematically giving both secular and Sabbath-school 

Wesley and His Literature. 321 

instruction to children in Savannah when Robert Raikes was 
in his infancy. He had systematized education there before 
Bell and Lancaster were born. When his ministry was suc- 
cessful among the masses, if he found the people boors he 
did not leave them without the means of improvement, and 
was prodigal in his endeavors for their benefit. "Wesley had 
not the large advantage which association affords to philanthro- 
pists now. He was almost a single-handed worker. Publish- 
ers who had an eye to quick returns would hardly look at a 
series of educational works, so sparse and ill-prepared was the 
market for such literary wares. But Wesley was determined 
to send the school-master abroad, trusting that under the provi- 
dence of God he would gather his own scholars. He would 
uplift the masses, though they themselves were inert, and eyen 
impatient of the experiment. Hence he prepared and pub- 
lished grammars in five languages, English, French, Latin, 
Greek, and Hebrew. He printed, also, expurgated editions of 
the classics, which, as the "Excerpta ex Ovidio," might be 
properly placed in the hands of ingenuous youth. A " Com- 
pendium of Logic," clear and admirable, also issued from his 
pen. Under the signature "A Lover of Good English and 
Common Sense," he published " The Complete English Dic- 
tionary," which, in its way, is curious and valuable. An 
" N. B." is on the title page, to this effect : " The author 
assures you he thinks this is the best English Dictionary in the 
world." The preface is a literary curiosity, and is worth re- 
printing in extenso as a specimen of racy wit and modest 
assurance. It runs thus : 

To the Reader. 

As incredible as it may appear, I must allow that this Dictionary is 
not published to get money, but to assist persons of common sense 
and no learning to understand the best English authors; and that with 
as little expense of either time or money as the nature of the thing 
will allow. To this end it contains, not a heap of Greek and Latin 
words just tagged with English terminations, (for no good English 

322 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

■writer, none but vain and senseless pedants, give these any place in 
their writings;) not a scroll of barbarous law expressions, which are 
neither Greek, Latin, nor good English ; not a crowd of technical 
terms, the meaning whereof is to be sought in books expressly wrote 
on the subjects to which they belong; not such English words as 
and, of, out, which stand so gravely in Mr. Bailey's, Pardon's, and 
Martin's Dictionaries ; but most of those hard words which are found 
in the best English writers. I say most, for I purposely omit not only 
all that are not hard, and which are not found in the best writers — 
not only all law words and most technical terms — but likewise all, the 
meaning of which may be easily gathered from those of the same 
derivation. And this I have done in order to make this Dictionary 
both as short and cheap as possible. 

I should add no more, but that I have so often observed the only 
way, according to the modern taste, for any author to procure com- 
mendation to his book is vehemently to commend it himself. For 
want of this deference to the public several excellent tracts, lately 
printed, but left to commend themselves by their intrinsic worth, are 
utterly unknown or forgotten ; whereas, if a writer of tolerable sense 
will but bestow a few violent encomiums on his own work, especially 
if they are skillfully ranged in the title-page, it will pass through six 
editions in a trice; the world being too complaisant to give a gentle- 
man the lie, and taking it for granted he understands his own per- 
formance best. In compliance, therefore, with the taste of the age, I 
add that this little Dictionary is not only the shortest and cheapest, 
but likewise, by many degrees, the most correct, which is extant at 
this day. Many are the mistakes in all the other English Dictiona- 
ries which I have seen; whereas I can truly say, I know of none in 
this. And I conceive the reader will believe me, for if I had, I 
should not have left it there. Use, then, this help till you find a better. 

Besides these grammars and this dictionary Wesley ventured 
into the domain of the historian. He wrote a short Soman 
history, and a concise history of England in four volumes. 
He had many qualities which fitted him for this particular work. 
A calm, judicial mind ; a sensitive taste, which could separate, 
almost without an effort, the precious from the vile ; a loyal 
love of constitutional government, as he understood it ; and, 
above all, a reverent insight which saw God moving in history 

Wesley and His Liteeatuke. 323 

to the working out of his own. plans, whether by vessels of 
wrath or instruments of deliverance or mercy, are advantages 
not often found in combination in the same individual. 
Later in life he also published an ecclesiastical history on 
the basis of Mosheim, correcting what he deemed erroneous, 
and appending a " Short History of the People called Method- 
ists," the more necessary, as in Maclaine's translation of Mo- 
sheim, Wesley and Whitefield figured in the list of heretics. 
Natural philosophy and electricity (the latter science at that 
time just passing out of the region of myth into the region of 
acknowledged discovery, and Franklin, its prophet, looked 
upon by the scientific world rather as a Pariah than a Brah- 
min)- also engaged his attention, and he tried to popularize 
them. Fragments on ethical and literary subjects, on memory, 
taste, genius, the power of music ; remarks on recently pub- 
lished works, or works of standard interest, all tending to 
familiarize the masses with elevating and improving subjects, 
proceeded at intervals from his diligent hand. Indeed, it may 
be fearlessly affirmed that in the forefront of those who de- 
serve to be remembered as the educators of the race, his name 
should be recorded — a brave pioneer who ventured, ax in 
hand, to make a clearing in the forest, with no friends to cheer 
him on, and but for whose early and patient toil the highway 
to knowledge, upon which so many are easily and gladly walk- 
ing, would have been delayed in its construction for years. 

Connected with this use of the press for educational pur- 
poses ought to be mentioned the powerful aid which his writ- 
ings afforded to the creation of a healthy public opinion on 
sanitary and social matters, and in reference to existing evils 
whose foulness was but half understood. While as a practical 
philanthropist he had no superior, dispensing food and help 
and medicine, caring for the outcasts who " sacrifice to gods 
which smite them ;" while " Stranger's Friend Societies," dis- 
pensaries, and orphan houses grew up around him — the comely 
expressions of his goodness — he was directing, from his quiet 

324 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

study, the silent revolutions of opinion. His great warm heart 
beat tenderly for suffering humanity, and against every evil 
which degraded the body, or dwarfed the mind, or cursed the 
soul, he wrote with warmth and freedom. He pitied the har- 
lot, and pleaded for the downtrodden slave. He denounced, 
in ready and eloquent words, domestic slavery, cruel intemper- 
ance, and other social ulcers which eat out the vigor of national 
life. His political economy, if not philosophically sound, was' 
practically uplifting and charitable. No. regard for class inter- 
ests was allowed to interfere with his one purpose of doing 
good and bettering the individual, the nation; and the world. 
For the healing of the sick he disregarded the prejudices of 
the faculty, and though wits make merry at his "Primitive 
Physic," no medical works of that day are more free from 
folly or empiricism. For the simplification of necessary legal 
documents he wrote so as to incur the wrath of the lawyers, 
whose "villainous tautology " moved his righteous anger; and 
in Church matters he denounced pluralities and absenteeism as 
vigorously as the most trenchant Church reformer in the land. 
He cheered philanthropists, like Howard and Wilberforce, in 
their arduous work, and they blessed him for his loving words. 
There is scarcely an active form of charity now blessing man- 
kind which he did not initiate or dream of ; scarcely an ac- 
knowledged good which he did not strive to realize. In fact, 
he was far beyond his age, and his forecasting goodness pro- 
jected itself, like a luminous shadow, upon the coining time. 

Of Wesley's polemical writings it were not seemly, in an 
article like this, to speak at length. He was not naturally in- 
clined to controversy, and personally was one of the most pa- 
tient and forgiving of men. He framed his United Societies 
on the principle of comprehension : any could be Methodists 
who accepted the essentials of the Christian system, and lived 
godly and peaceable lives ; and though he warred ceaselessly 
against sin, he was tolerant of intellectual error, except so far 
as it was connected with or tended to sin. In matters of mere 

Wesley and His Liteeatuee. 323 

opinion lie displayed the broadest liberality, and avoided the 
too common mistake of making a man an offender for a word. 
In comparatively early life he records that he spent " near ten 
minutes in controversy, which is more than I had done in 
public for months, perhaps years, before." Later he says, " I 
preach eight hundred sermons a year, and, taking one year 
with another for twenty years past, I have not preached eight 
sermons upon the subject." The reference is to mere opinions. 
He was not likely, therefore, needlessly to embroil himself, 
nor to enter upon controversy without constraint of over- 
mastering motive, or that which to him seemed to be such. His 
first controversy was with his former friends, the Moravians, 
among whom he thought he discovered a dangerous mysticism 
in sentiment, and some unworthy license in practice ; but the 
interest of this was limited, and it is now forgotten. The three 
great controversial subjects which engaged him were, first, to 
repel the slanders and correct the mistakes which were current 
about himself and his work. To this end he wrote and pub- 
lished his " Appeals to Men of Reason and Religion." These 
earnest and dignified defenses deserve to be mentioned by the 
side of the Apologies of the early Church. In the first Appeal, 
after noticing and dealing with objections, he appeals to men 
who pride themselves on their reason, as to the unreasonable- 
ness of an ungodly life, thus wounding them with arrows taken 
out of their own quiver. The second is almost wholly on the 
defensive in the first part ; the second part is a fearless and 
scathing exposure of commonly practised sin ; and the third 
restates the defense, and reiterates the rebuke of transgression. 
Wesley's second controversy gave rise to his largest and ablest 
contribution to controversial literature— his treatise on " Origi- 
nal Sin," in reply to Dr. John Taylor, an acute and eminent 
Unitarian minister of Norwich. In this work he treats his op- 
ponent with uniform courtesy, while he freely handles and does 
his best to demolish his scheme. He considers the subject first 

in relation to the state of mankind, past and present. After the 

326 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

historical review, which he confirms by a black list of corrob- 
orating facts, he proceeds to the scriptural definition and proof 
of the doctrine, dealing with his opponent's method of dealing 
with Scripture. He then answers Dr. Taylor's answers to 
writers who had contended with him before, and gives length- 
ened extracts from these writers where he judged them worthy 
of quotation. Dr. Taylor had answered others, but to Wes- 
ley's treatise no reply was forthcoming. The third and most 
voluminous controversy in which Wesley engaged was the 
Calvinistic one, in which the Hills and Toplady on the one 
hand, and Wesley and Fletcher on the other, were doughty- 
combatants for a series of years. The good men who tilted at 
each other's shields, sometimes with rude assaults, have long 
since met in the land where they learn war no more, and have 
doubtless seen eye to eye in the purged vision of the New 
Jerusalem. It were idle, nay cruel, to revive these controver- 
sies now. For the purposes of this paper it need only be af- 
firmed that Wesley did not wrangle about trifles. " Keligious 
liberty, human depravity, justification by faith, sanctification 
by the Holy Spirit, universal redemption" — these were the 
truths which he explained with convincing clearness, and de- 
fended with indomitable energy, and with a temper which, if 
not absolutely unruffled, rarely forgot the counsel, although 
terribly provoked to do so, — 

"Be calm in arguing, for fierceness makes 
Error a fault, and truth discourtesy." 

A large portion of Wesley's contributions to the literature 
of his time consisted of his abridgments of the works of other 
men. These number one hundred and seventeen, inclusive of 
the Christian Library, which consists of fifty volumes. Per- 
haps a more unselfish boon was never given by any man in 
any land or age. It was a largeness of intellectual and spirit- 
ual wealth flung royally out for the masses, without thought of 
personal gain or grudge of personal trouble. Wesley's pur- 

Wesley and His Liteeatube. 327 

pose was to bring to the notice and within the reach of his 
Societies and others the best works of the best minds on the 
best subjects, that by the light of this sanctified intellect " sons 
might be as plants grown up in their youth, and daughters as 
corner-stones polished after the similitude of a palace." In 
this Christian Library the great Christian minds of the gen- 
erations are brought together. Clemens, Ignatius, and Poly- 
carp — St. Ambrose, Arndt, and John Fox — Hall, Leighton, 
Patrick, and Tillotson— are parts of the renowned company. 
South, Cave, Manton, Cud worth, and Jeremy Taylor, are in 
friendly companionship with Charnock, Howe, Flavel, Baxter, 
and Owen. Brainerd and Janeway lay bare their spiritual ex- 
periences. Chief Justice Hale and Young are pressed into 
the service, and authors from foreign lands, such as Pascal, 
De Eenty, and Bengel are naturalized for the same liberal and 
useful end. The experiment, as has been well said, " had never 
been attempted before, and has never been surpassed since." 

His miscellaneous works were numerous, and so various as 
to defy classification. On whatever topic it seemed to him 
that the people needed guidance he was ready to offer it ; he 
provided for them instruction and counsel on the great prob- 
lems of life and its more serious duties, and did not forget, 
either in his poetical selections or in " Henry, Earl of More- 
land," to indulge them with morsels of lighter reading for 
their leisure hours. 

All mention of the Journals has been reserved to the last. 
They must be studied by any who would see the man. 
They are his unconscious autobiography. His versatility, his 
industry, his benevolence, his patience under insult, his indif- 
ference to human honor, his single-mindedness, his continual 
waiting upon providence, (which involved him in inconsisten- 
cies which he was not careful to reconcile, and which glorious- 
ly vindicate the disinterestedness of his life,) his culture, his 
courtesy, his combination of the instincts of a gentleman with 
the blunt honesty of a son of toil, his true dignity, his woman- 

328 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

ly tenderness of feeling, his racy wit, his discriminating criti- 
cism, his power of speech, his power of silence, all the elements 
which go to make up the symmetry of a well-compacted charac- 
ter,- — if any want to find these let them go, not to the pages 
of his biographers, who from various stand-points and with 
much acuteness have told the story of his life, but let them 
gather what he was and what the world owes to him from these 
records, as he daily transcribed them, in which he has shown 
himself, as in a glass, with the self-unconsciousness and trans- 
parency which only the' truly great can afford to feel. "We 
need not anticipate the world's verdict. It has >sen already 
pronounced : — - 

" Self -reverence, self-knowledge, self-control, 
These three alone lead life to sovereign power." 

The slander was hushed into silence, and men woke up to 
know that a prophet had been among them ere yet he had 
passed from their midst. A life of such singular blameless- 
ness and of such singular devotion is a rich heritage for any 
people. He was not covetous of any fame but God's; but 
fame has come to him, notwithstanding, and sits upon his mem- 
ory like a crown : — 

" The path of duty was the way to glory, 

He that, ever following her commands, 

On with toil of heart and knees and hands, 

Through the long gorge to the far light has won 

His path upward and prevailed, 

Shall find the toppling crags of duty scaled, 

And close upon the shining table-lands 

To which our God himself is moon and sun. 

Such was he : his work is done ; 

But while the races of mankind endure 

Let his great example stand 

Colossal, seen of every land." 


TOHN WESLEY'S love of children was proverbial, Eobert 
v Southey being the witness. The poet says : " When I 
was a child I was in a house in Bristol where Wesley was ; run- 
ning down stairs before him with a beautiful little sister of my 
own, he overtook us on the landing, where he lifted my sister 
in his arms and kissed her. Placing her on her feet again, he 
then put his hand upon my head and blessed me." Little 
did the stranger know that that boy was to become the 
poet laureate of England, and one of his biographers. Well 
might Southey say in after years, his eyes glistening with 
tears, and his tones softened by grateful and tender recollec- 
tion, " I feel as though I had the blessing of that good man 
upon me still." It is a beautiful picture ; many knew it to be 
true ; children were always welcome, and " never in his way." 
His knowledge of their wants and ways made him interested in 
their concerns, and that interest was a key to the affections of 
the little ones. 

In olden time rules were strict, and parental maxims some- 
what rigid ; but the training of John Wesley was such as to 
bear its fruit in after life, and make him avoid the austere 
toward children that he might win their confidence, by love. 
At his early Epworth home his mother was his teacher, and 
she began to educate very early. " At one year old he was 
made to fear the rod, and to kiss it when he cried," and that 
passion might be controlled, " his very crying was only allowed 
in softened tones." 

As he grew to be a boy he was only allowed three meals a 
day, and eating and drinking between meals was strictly for- 
bidden. He was one of the younger of nineteen children, and, 

330 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

though nine had died, there were enough left to make th ride 
of early retiring press hard upon him, for since all had to be 
in bed by eight o'clock, his turn would probably come very 

Two other rules were in force, one good, the other doubtful ; 
" Never give a child what it cried for ; and never allow any 
one to sit by the cot after the child was put to bed." This 
child had nerves which were finely strung, and great fears held 
possession of his little heart ; he cried for fear ; no help came, 
and he paid the penalty in after life of wonderful illusions, 
credulities, and dreams. 

Religion, however, was the foundation of all teaching in that 
household ; the children were taught to pray as soon as they 
could speak, and they were taught what prayer was. It is said 
that rudeness was never seen among them ; and on no account 
were they allowed to call each other by their proper names 
without the addition of brother or sister, as the case might be. 
School was kept for six hours a day, and psalms were sung at 
the beginning and close, after which one of the elder children 
took one of the younger and read to them from the Bible and 
heard the evening prayer. This was the home teaching of the 
sons till they were sent to school in London ; and one who ob- 
served the order of the Epworth family said, " Never was there 
a family of children who did their mother greater credit." And 
what a mother was she! She trained her son for the Lord; 
she watched his youthful follies ; she prayed continually for his 
safe-guiding as well as for his safe-keeping. She followed him 
with her letters, with her entreaties, and her counsels, and she 
rejoiced in her fife in London shortly before she died, that she 
might " establish, strengthen, and settle " him ; and when she 
died John was, indeed, the chief mourner who stood by the 
open grave in Bunhill-fields and delivered that wonderful 
sermon to the assembled multitude. It was his filial act 
which placed a stone at the head of her grave, to record some- 
thing of her worth : 

John Wesley and Sunday-Schools. 331 

"In sure and steadfast hope to rise, 
And claim her mansion in the skies, 
A Christian here her flesh laid down ; 
The cross exchanging for a crown." 

The peril of the great city was soon found by John "Wesley, 
to whom his father wrote in 1715, when he was at the Charter 
House School, " I hope now I shall have no occasion to remem- 
ber the things that are past ; and since you have for sometime 
bit upon the bridle, I have now joy in thee, my son." It is 
sad to be informed by him, that at the age of twenty-two he 
had to write : " Till now I have had no religious friend, but 
I begin to alter the whole form of my conversation, and am 
set in earnest upon a new life. I set apart an hour or two for 
religious retirement ; I watch against all sin, whether in word 
or deed ; . I begin to aim at and to pray for inward holiness." 
Thus it was, that from the age of ten to the age of twenty- 
two, the restraints of home being cut away, the experience of 
many young men of godly families was partially the experience 
of one of God's holiest and most useful servants, at least so far 
that there was a marked lessening of religious influence and 

All this discipline prepared the way for the full sympathy 
of his mind with childhood and youth, which was shown by 
Mr. Wesley from the beginning of his ministry, leading him 
to enforce earnestly family religion and school instruction. In 
1745 he wrote his " Instructions for Children, addressed to all 
Parents and School-masters," in which he treats upon the true 
principles of Christian education, and that these should be in- 
stilled into their minds as soon as they can distinguish good 
from evil. He then furnishes lessons in the form of a cate- 
chism, and we there see the old family rules of his own home 
peeping out when he exhorts teachers, that " they who teach 
children to love praise, train them for the devil ; and they 
who give children what they like are the worst enemies they 

332 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

His knowledge of the hearts of children leads him in his well- 
known sermons on " Training Children " and " Family Relig- 
ion " to say, " the wickedness of children is generally owing to 
the fault or neglect of their parents." And further, " that the 
souls of children should be fed as often as their bodies." His 
" lessons " are taken from Moses, and are fifty-four in number. 
These he commends to his preachers, saying, "Beware how 
you tend these deep things of God ; beware of that common 
but accursed way of making children parrots instead of Chris- 
tians. Regard not how much, but how you teach. Turn 
every sentence every way, and question them continually on 
every point." 

How the personal influence of Wesley and Whitefield all 
over the country, and the instructions of the former to his 
preachers, must have opened the way for the great Sunday- 
school movement of later years. Of those organizations he 
says, at the age of eighty-one years, when he preached at Bing- 
ley, in Yorkshire, on July 18, 17S4, " Before service I stepped 
into the Sunday-school. I find these schools springing 

up wherever I go. Perhaps God may have a deeper end 
therein than men are aware of. Who knows but that some of 
these schools may become nurseries for Christians ? " This is 
Mr. Wesley's first mention of these schools in his Journal; 
and he caught the idea with wonderful precision. Robert 
Raikes had started his school in Gloucester in 17S1, and in 
1784 Wesley says of the Leeds school: "The plan is this; 
boys and girls are kept separate. There are four inquisitors 
who spend the afternoon in visiting the twenty-six schools, 
to seek the absentees in the public streets. The masters are 
mostly pious men who are paid from one to two shillings a 
Sunday for their services. The expenses of the first year were 
£234" Visiting Oldham, he says, " The children clung around 
me ; the streets were lined with little children, and such chil- 
dren as I had never seen till now. After singing, a whole 
troop closed me in and would not be content till I had shook 

John Wesley and Sunday-Schools. 333 

each of them by the hand." At Bolton, where he preached at 
Easter, 1785, he wrote : " Some five hundred Sunday-school 
children present ; such an army got about me when I came out 
of the chapel that I could not disengage myself from them." 
Well may all this display of infant zeal have called forth the 
prediction and the prayer of the aged saint. He could not 
fail to remember his own early efforts in his school for colliers' 
children, at Kingswood ; in his school at the Foundery, in Lon- 
don, from 1742, under the direction and tuition of Silas Told ; 
and earlier still in his parish at Savannah, in 1736, where he 
had commenced the work which Raikes was permitted to 
accomplish in England more than forty years afterward: 

Bishop Stevens, in his " History of Georgia " has made this 
record of Mr. Wesley's earliest efforts in school work : 

"As a part of John Wesley's parochial labors he established a school 
of thirty or forty children, which he placed under the care of Mr. Del- 
lamotte, a man of good education, who endeavored to blend religious 
instruction with secular learning; and on Sunday afternoon Wesley 
met them in the church before evening service, heard the children recite 
their catechism, questioned them as to what they had heard from the 
pulpit, instructed them still further in the Bible, endeavoring to fix the 
truth in their understandings as well as in their memories. This was a 
regular part of his Sunday duties, and it shows that John Wesley, in the 
parish of Savannah, had established a Sunday-school fifty years before 
Robert Raikes originated his noble scheme of Sunday instruction in 
Gloucester, and eighty years before the first school in America, on Mr. 
Raikes' plan, was established in the city of New York." 

To whomsoever we are indebted for the first thought of 
Sundav-schools, to God only would we give all the praise, for 
such a work could only be an inspiration from him. The 
Sunday-school is now a great fact, one of the most potent for 
good on the face of the earth. Its influence controls the. con- 
science and guides the will of nations; and from America 
and England the system of Sunday-schools is being extended 
all over Europe, and by the aid of missionaries to people in 
every country on the globe. 

334 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

On the rolls of our Sabbath-schools are the names of millions 
of scholars ; and the godly unpaid teachers are counted by 
hundreds of thousands. The results cannot be registered ; no 
pen of the statist can figure them ; the record is on high ! A 
century of Sunday-school work is just closing, and we are about 
to celebrate the completion of that period ; but the world has 
not yet seen the power of the Sunday-school. Had he lived 
bo long, no one would have more rejoiced at the glorious 
results of Sunday-school labors during a century than would 
John "Wesley. 


Paris, ce 19 avril, 1879. 
A M. le Pasteur Matthietj Lelievre, JSTeues : 

Most cher Monsieur : Yous m'apprenez que l'on prepare 
aux Etats-TJnis, a la grande memoire de "Wesley, un monument 
plus durable que ceux de pierre ou de marbre. Ce monument 
doit etre un livre, dans lequel toutes les diverses fractions du 
christianisme evangelique exprimeront leur respect et leur 
sympathie pour ce puissant serviteur de Dieu. C'est a ce titre 
que vous m'avez demand^ de joindre mon temoignage au leur. 
Je le fais avec empressement, dans la mesure ou je le puis, 
c'est a dire en me contentant d'un simple temoignage d'admi- 
ration et de gratitude ; car, je ne suis pas capable d'essayer une 
caract£ristique de cet illustre serviteur de Dieu, illustre malgr6 
lui-meme, l'humilite etant Fun de ses traits distinctifs. Les 
Eglises methodistes d'Amerique ont eu bien raison de faire 
appel a la chretiente evangelique tout entiere, car un homme 
comme Wesley lui appartient, tout en ayant marque son oeuvre 
d'une empreinte particuliere, par l'innuence generale et con- 
siderable qu'il a exercee sur l'Eglise contemporaine. 

Laissant de cote ce qui se rapporte plus specialment aux 
Eglises que portent son nom, et, qui ont bien raison de demeurer 
fideles a, leur caractere propre, tant que n'a pas sonne l'beure 
de la grande fusion, dans la synthese elargie d'un ckristianisme 
complet — heure qui me parait devoir co'incider avec celle des 
dernieres consommations — je releverai quelques uns des grands 
services rendus par Wesley a la Reformation tout entiere. 
Tout d'abord, au point de vue doctrinal, il a reagi contre la 
scholastique dogmatique, dans laquelle s'etait figee la seve gene- 
reuse du seizieme siecle, et il a restaure 1' element moral, la lib- 

336 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

erte humaine sacrifice an dogme de la predestination absolue, 
sans tomber dans l'erreur pelagienne. Je ne m'arrete pas aux 
consequences, qui ont ete tirees de cette revendication au sein 
des Eglises wesleyennes, et, sur lesquelles je n'ai pas a me pro- 
noncer ici. Je retiens seulement cette grande affirmation du 
libre arbitre, en dehors de laquelle, je declare ne pas comprendre 
une lutte serieuse contre le pantheisme contemporain, et cette 
insistance sur la saintete, qui etait bien necessaire en face d'une 
ortbodoxie plus disposee a rassurer l'ame qu'a la stimuler a la 

En second lieu, Wesley, sans rompre prematurement avec 
l'Eglise officielle, a ete l'un des plus puissants initiateurs de la 
vraie notion de l'Eglise, qui la fait reposer, non sur la naissance, 
mais sur la foi personnelle, et l'amene, sans detroner le minis- 
tere, a une large pratique du sacerdoce universe! du sacerdoce 
laique. Cette premiere reforme ecclesiastique portait dans son 
sein l'independance de la societe spirituelle vis-a-vis de l'etat : 
aussi, a la seconde generation, le wesleyanisme a-t-il presque 
partout rompu le lien avec le pouvoir civil. 

En troisieme lieu, Wesley a donne le plus magnifique elan 
au mouvement missionnaire, sans separer la mission du dedans 
de celle du dehors, car c'est une vraie mission qu'il a entre- 
prise avec Whitefield dans les terres dites chretiennes. Je ne 
connais rien de plus admirable que cette propaganda ardente, 
infatigable dans les deux mondes, suspendant les multitudes 
aux levres de ces vrais apotres qui, pour employer 1' expression 
d'un de leurs plus fideles disciples, le Eev. Arthur, portaient 
oraiment une langue de feu, et, dans le siecle de Yoltaire et de 
Bolingbroke, ramenerent de vraies Pentecotes. lis ont ete les 
initiateurs d'lin reveil general qui s'est produit dans tout le 
protestantisme. Les os sees se sont ranimes a leur voix, qui a 
ete entendue par toute la terre. La mission interieure a enfante 
la mission exterieure, qui lui a du cette incomparable expan- 
sion, la gloire de l'Eglise evangelique du dix-neu-vieme siecle. 
Grace a eux et a leurs emules, l'ange de 1' Apocalypse a vrai- 

"Wesley Juge par De Pressense. 337 

ment repris son vol sous tous les cieux pour porter l'Evangile 
eternel aux peuples de toutes langues. 

Enfin, car je me borne a indiquer ces idees sans les develop- 
per, Wesley a fait descendre de nouveau l'Evangile des hauteurs 
plus on moins glacees d'une sorte d'aristocratie religieuse. II 
l'a porte aux desherites, aux ignorants, aux esclaves. On a pu 
dire de nouveau : " L'Evangile est annonce aux pauvres." Les 
partisans d'une religion comme il faut, lui en ont fait un re- 
proche, et lui ont dit comme Celse au christianisme primitif : 
" Vous ne vous occupez que de cette tourbe de carref our, de 
tous ces miserables qui sont le rebut de l'humanite." Wesley 
aurait pu repondre, comme Origene dans sa replique immortelle 
au philosophe grec : " C'est vrai ; nous nous preoccupons de 
ces miserables pour les relever, parce que vous n'y avez pas 
pense. ISTous representons un Maitre qui a dit : ' Je ne suis pas 
venu pour ceux qui sont en sante, mais je cherche tout ce qui 
est perdu ! ' " 

II faudrait maintenant, mon cher Monsieur, montrer toutes 
ces grandes idees vivantes dans la personne de Wesley, retracer 
cette figure si noble, cette vie d'infatigable devouement. Ce 
n'est pas en vous ecrivant que je le ferai, car je n' ai garde 
d'oublier que vous etes un de ceux qui nous avez le mieux fait 
connaitre ce grand chretien, grand surtout parce qu'il redit 
du fond du cceur avec Jean Baptiste : " II f aut qu'il grandisse 
et que je diminue." 

Sans donte vos Eglises, comme toutes les fractions de la 
chretiente, ont eu leurs imperfections et leurs etroitesses. 
J'avoue franchement que ma pensee a besoin de plus d'air et 
d'espace que l'orthodoxie du reveil, qu'il soit wesleyen, lu- 
therien, ou reforme. Chaque epoque recoit des lumieres nou- 
velles de Celui qui s'appelle le Soleil de justice et de verite. 
Je souhaite seulement que ces lumieres soient penetrees d'une 
flamme aussi ardente qui celle que anima les Peres de nos Eglises. 
Les grands serviteurs de Dieu, qui nous ont quittes, sont comme 
des Elies enleves dans un char de feu. II faut ramasser, non 

338 The Wesley Memokial Volume. 

pas leur linceul, qui represente la part des infirmites et des 
erreurs humaines, dont il faut bien se garder de faire des tradi- 
tions mortes — mais leur manteau : je veux dire, ce qui sym- 
bolise leur activite large et feconde. 

C'est le seul moyen pour les Elisees de continuer les Elies. 
Croyez, cher Monsieur, & ma haute estime et a mon affectueux 


E. de Pbessense. 


Paris, April 19, 1879. 
To the Rev. Matthew Lelievre, IsTimes. 

My Dear Sib : You tell rae that a monument more lasting 
than one of stone or marble is being prepared in the United 
States to the grand memory of "Wesley. This monument is a 
book in which the various evangelical communions will express 
their respect and sympathy for that powerful servant of God. 
Wherefore you ask me to join my. testimony to theirs ; and I 
eagerly do so in the measure of my ability, confining myself to 
a simple testimony of admiration and gratitude. For I am not 
able to attempt a characteristic of this illustrious servant of 
God, illustrious in spite of himself, humility being one of the 
traits which distinguished him. The American Methodist 
Churches have done well to appeal to Evangelical Christendom 
generally, for a man such as Wesley, although his work bore a 
special stamp, belongs to it by the wide and deep influence 
which he exercised over the contemporary Church. 

Leaving aside what more particularly regards the Churches 
which bear his name, and which are right in remaining faith- 
ful to their own principles, so long as the hour has not struck for 
the grand fusion in the widened synthesis of a perfected Chris- 
tianity — which hour methinks will coincide with the end of all 
things — I shall point out a few of the great services Wesley 
rendered to reformation generally. In the first place, as regards 
doctrine, he reacted against scholastical dogmatics, in which the 
noble sap of the sixteenth century had been congealed, and, 
without falling into Pelagian error, he restored the moral ele- 
ment — human liberty — which had been sacrificed to the dogma 
of absolute predestination. I pass over the conclusions which 

340 The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 

have been drawn from this claim by the Wesleyan Churches, 
and on which I have not here to pronounce. I only mark that 
grand affirmation of the free-will — without which I declare I 
do not comprehend any serious wrestling against contemporary 
pantheism — and that insistence on holiness which was a neces- 
sity in presence of an orthodoxy more fit to reassure the waver- 
ing soul than to excite it for the struggle. 

In the second place, Wesley, without prematurely breaking 
with the Established Church, was one of the most powerful 
initiators of that true ecclesiastical notion which establishes 
the Church, not on birthright but on personal faith, and, 
without dethroning ministry, teaches her to practice universal 
priesthood — lay priesthood. This first ecclesiastical reform 
carried in itself the independence of the spiritual society 
toward the State ; consequently, as early as the second genera- 
tion, Wesleyanism had nearly every -where freed itself from civil 

Thirdly, Wesley gave the most magnificent impulse to mis- 
sionary movement at home and abroad ; for that was a true 
mission which he undertook with "Whitefield [in Georgia] in a 
so-called Christian land. I know nothing more worthy of 
admiration than the ardent propaganda, indefatigable in both 
worlds, of those true apostles on whose lips crowds hung spell- 
bound, and — to speak in the language of one of their most 
faithful disciples, the Eev. "William Arthur — who had tongues 
of fire, and in the age of Yoltaire and Bolingbroke produced 
true pentecosts. They were the means of beginning a general 
revival of Protestantism. At their voice — which is gone into 
all the earth — the dry bones revived. The home mission 
brought forth foreign mission, which has been followed by that 
incomiDarable expansion, the glory of the evangelical Church 
in the nineteenth century: Thanks to them and their associ- 
ates, the angel of the apocalypse has indeed resumed his flight 
in the midst of heaven to carry the everlasting gospel to every 
tongue and people. 

Wesley Judged by De. De Peessense. 341 

Finally — for I am merely pointing out these ideas without 
unfolding them — Wesley brought down the gospel anew from 
the rather icy summits of a religion of aristocracy. He 
took it to the disinherited, to the ignorant, to the slaves. It 
might again be truly said : " The gospel is preached to the 
poor." The followers of a fashionable religion have made 
this a reproach to him, saying, like Celsus to primitive Chris- 
tianity : " You only attend to those cross- way mobs, to those 
miserable creatures who are the refuse of humanity." "Wesley 
might have answered, like Origen, in his immortal reply to the 
Greek philosopher : " True, we employ ourselves to restore 
those miserable people, because you have not thought about 
them. We represent a Master who said : ' I came not for 
those who are whole, but I seek all who are lost.' " 

Now, dear sir, all these grand ideas ought to be shown alive 
in the person of Wesley, and that noble figure, that life of un- 
wearied self-denial, ought to be delineated. I cannot do this 
in a letter to you, for how can I forget that you* are one of 
those who have best acquainted us with this great Christian — 
great, just because, like John the Baptist, he said from his in- 
most heart : "He must increase, and I must decrease." 

Surely, your Churches, like all other Christian communions, 
have had their imperfections and their narrow-mindedness. I 
frankly confess that my thought wants more air and space 
than the orthodoxy of revival can give, whether Wesleyan, Lu- 
theran, or Reformed. Every epoch receives fresh light from 
him who is the Sun of Righteousness and truth. I only wish 
that this light be penetrated by so ardent a flame as that which 
animated the fathers of our Churches. The great servants 
of God who have left us are like so many Elijahs taken up in 
a chariot of fire. We must pick up, not their shroud, that is 
to say, their infirmities and errors — which we must be careful 
not to make dead traditions of — but their mantle, by which I 

* Pressense" has reference to Leli&vre's most admirable " Life of Wesley." — 


342 The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 

mean every thing that represents their wide and fruitful activ- 
ity. Only thus will the Elishas be the continuators of the Eli- 
jahs. I am, dear sir, 

Your affectionately devoted 

E. de Pbessensb. 



OTHERLAND across the sea, 
Home of bards and sages, 
Crowned amid the ages, 
Shrines unnumbered are in thee, 
Where the pilgrim reverently 
Stands like one upon a shore, 
Looking far the billows o'er ; 
"Waiting till the echoes float 
From the wastes that lie remote ; 
So we lean, with ear attent, 
For some winged message sent. 


In the distance here we stand ; — 

'Tis a deep devotion, 

Mother isle of ocean, 
Speaks a blessing on thy land, 
For thy heroes, strong of hand, 
Brave of heart, the ages through ; 
'Tis a shining retinue, 
Thou hast given for the lead 
Of a world in restless speed ; 
Seas are wide, but chains of gold 
Bind us each, the New and Old. 

344 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 


Where the Trent with easy flow 
Seeks the Humber, gliding, 
Winding oft, and hiding, 
Through the " levels " rich and low, 
There a manor long ago 
Rose beyond, on heights of green, 
Looking down the river sheen ; 
That is Epworth, parish old, 
Of a date that is not told ; — 
Hence the echo o'er the sea, 
Worthy theme of minstrelsy. 


Parsonage of Epworth! where 
Came there brighter angel, 
With a glad evangel ? 
Never on the burdened air 
Was a sweeter breath of prayer, 
Than the words by priest intoned, 
When the mother, love-enthroned, 
Gave the new-born one caress, 
With God's seal of blessedness ; — 
Write that mother's queenly soul, 
England, on thy royal scroll ! 


Thatched the cottage where he dwelt, 

Shepherd and protector, 

Epworth's saintly rector; 
Dim the chancel where he knelt, 
'Neath the mossv tower that felt 

Epworth. 845 

Shock of storm, and sunlight kiss, 
Pointing from the world that is 
To the higher towers of gold, 
In the glory manifold ; 
Bless St. Andrew's with its chime, 
Relic of the olden time ! 


From the parish of the priest, 
Humble in its story, 
Spread a wave of glory ; 
Like the day-star in the East 
To the daylight broad increased ; 
Till a morning song is heard 
Like the carol of a bird ; 
Song of prisoned souls unbound 
Rising all the wide world round 
Palaces have heard the strain, 
And the lowly keep refrain. 


Epworth hath its legends old ; 

Tales of ancient Briton, — 

Chivalry unwritten, — 
Deed of Dane and Saxon, told ; 
But no dauntless chief or bold 
Gives the manor such renown, 
Gives its beauty such a crown, 
As the knight with shield and lance, 
Leading on the world's advance 
From the river isle Axholme, 
Over land and ocean foam. 

316 The "Wesley Memobial Volume. 


Epworth born, and Oxford bred, 
Student, fellow, master, 
Thence a world-wide pastor ; 
"Where the rubric had not led, 
There his parish field was spread ; 
Mid the Newgate felons bold, 
On the Moorfields, temple old, 
Where the Kingswood colliers met, 
"While he spread the gospel net ; 
Wider than a bishop's see, 
His a priesthood by decree. 


Westward rolled the glory-wave 
With the wave of freedom ; 
As from ancient Edom 
Came the mighty One to save, 
So the stalwart and the brave 
Entered through the forest doors, 
Trod the great cathedral floors, 
With their arches old and dim, 
Where, as from the cherubim, 
Fell the beauty and the gold 
With a rapture never told. 


Now the marble tells his fame 
Where the kings are sleeping, 
Guards the meanwhile keeping. 

Watch o'er his illustrious name ; 

While his words, an angel flame, 

Epwoeth. 347 

On the breath of morning fly 
With a trail of victory, 
From the rock of Plymouth old, 
To the western gate of gold ; 
Vale to vale, and State to State, 
Rolls the song " free grace," elate. 


Lo, we add another shrine, 

With a new hosanna, 

In the far Savannah, 
Where he came with zeal divine, 
'Mid old trails of oak and pine ; 
Where the red man darkly trod, 
Where he blindly worshiped God ! 
Here we drop our gifts of gold ; — 
'Tis a tale forever told, 
Of the old colonial time, 
As he stood in early prime. 


Where the brave Pulaski fell, 

With a shaft uplifted, 

For the hero gifted, 
Let the shade of Wesley dwell ; 
Let this fond memorial tell, 
Of the royal brotherhood, 
Ransomed all by Jesus' blood ; 
From all lands of earth are we 
Hither brought from every sea ; 
One dear land is ours — the best ; 
One dear cross — our pledge of rest. 

348 Tele Wesley Memorial Volume. 


On to old and distant climes, 

O'er the wild Pacific, 

Speeds the light omnific ; 
Hark, the hurried crash betimes 
Of the old embattled crimes, 
In the Tycoon's crowded isles, 
'Mid the Rajah's palace piles ; 
From zenana and bazar 
Hear the " Amen " rising far ; 
See the guns dismantled stand, 
Spiked by Christ's own princely hand. 


Through the Flowery Kingdom wide, 

Up its river passes 

Thronged with teeming masses, 
O'er the mountains which divide 
Dynasties of wealth and pride ; 
Lands of Caliph, Czar, and Khan ; 
In the shade of Yatican ; 
'Tis the same old conquering charm, 
'Tis the heart made strangely warm ; 
Swifter than the Moslem's sword 
Flies the everlasting word. 


Onward is the sacred march 
Through revolted regions, 
Filled with hostile legions ; 
Wild sirocco storms but parch 
All the way to victory's arch ; 

Epworth. 349 

" God is with us," best of all ; 
He will smite the bastion wall ; 
We shall write upon the bells 
Of the horses, as he tells, 

" Holiness " for his renown, 
His the glory and the crown. 


'Tis a birth-song we have sung ; 

Whispered as we listened, 

When a babe was christened; 
When the parish bells were rung, 
And two souls together clung, 
Child and mother. Onward time ! 
'Tis a battlefield sublime ; 
Turn the kingdoms ; islands wait ; 
Chimes the jubilee elate ! — 
Parish of the world ! behold ! 
Christ is crowned with stars of gold. 


THE title of this paper might, under other circumstances, 
lead readers to expect a great deal more than we propose 
to attempt. A full discussion of all that is involved in the 
names Wesley and Whitefield would form a history of the 
great religious movement of the last century, of which, under 
God, they were the chief promoters. It will readily be seen, 
however, that a chapter in this Memorial Volume on the sub- 
ject of these two mighty men must simply exhibit them in 
their relation to each other. 

In the history of the English nation and of the Christian re- 
ligion the two names are inseparably linked together. Some 
great men seem to have had no associates, of equal name and 
fame, engaged with them in their work. We sometimes com- 
pare the names of Paul and Silas, or of Paul and Barnabas, 
yet this is as we mention sun and satellite together, rather 
than as we speak of two twin stars. Wiclif did his work 
alone. We couple no other name with that of John Calvin, or 
of Jonathan Edwards. Butler thoiight out by himself the 
glorious argument of his imperishable "Analogy." John Mil- 
ton's soul was 

"Like a star, and dwelt apart." 

On the other hand, there are names which, despite of dissim- 
ilarities, we associate with each other. Luther and Melanchthon 
are a familiar instance. These two men were in all their men- 
tal and moral idiosyncrasies " wide as the poles asunder," but 
they were co-equals, associates, fellow-helpers, in some respects 
the complement or correlate of each other. The union of their 
names is natural, and will, no doubt, be perpetual. 

In like manner the names of Wesley and Whitefield stand 

Wesley and Whitefield. 351 

together on the page of history. To the initiated, who under- 
stand the difference between the two men, and who know of 
the separation w.hich took place early in their public history, 
this union may appear unnatural, and it is more than possible 
that on both sides some followers of the one may not think he 
is honored by being classed with the other ; but, rightly or 
wrongly, the two names are braced together, and we believe 
will be so even to the end. The association, too, we believe, is 
quite natural. The differences between them were important 
if not vital ; but they were inward. To the outside world the 
connection and resemblance were much more apparent than 
the divergence and the dissimilarity. They lived in the same 
era and were both identified from the first with the same relig- 
ious movement. Both bore the nickname " Methodist," which 
the happy genius of some scoffing collegian invented after 
" Sacramentar-ian," " Bible-moth," and " Bible-bigot " had been 
tried. Some doctrines which were repudiated with vehemence 
by the ecclesiastics of their day they held in common, and 
these each continued to preach after they had pronounced very 
opposite opinions on the doctrine of the divine decrees. Both 
were eminent preachers, and both were distinguished by a 
splendid irregularity in the way in which they exercised their 
ministry. In their early life they were intimate and endeared 
friends, and in their early labors they were close associates. 
The junction of their names on the page of history, under such 
circumstances, was to be looked for, and let high Calvinist or 
low Arminian like it or not, they must reconcile themselves to 
it, for it is inevitable and unalterable. 

If we are asked which of the men should be reckoned the 
greater, perhaps our safest answer would be, " We are not 
careful to answer thee in this matter." "We are taught by the 
apostle not to glory in one Christian teacher over another, on 
the principle that all the qualifications and endowments of min- 
isters in general are for the benefit of the Church of God. 
"All things are yours." Hence, if we could not give a com- 

352 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

parative estimate of these two men without seeming to despise 
or depreciate one of them, we should certainly hesitate ere we 
expressed an opinion. But as we devoutly reverence the mem- 
ory of Whitefield, we may, perhaps, be permitted to say that 
we think "Wesley was incomparably the greater man. We re- 
gard him as the master spirit of the last century's revival. In 
some things Whitefield undoubtedly led the way. He was 
the first to perceive the simplicity which was in Christ. Wes- 
ley continued as a ritualist and a legalist long after Whitefield 
had obtained peace in believing. Not till after Wesley's mel- 
ancholy visit to Georgia did he experience that " strange warm- 
ing of heart" which was his induction into "the peace which 
passeth all understanding." Whitefield had passed from death 
unto life while yet at the University. Whitefield, when access 
to the pulpits of the Church -of England was denied him, was 
the first to go to the highways and hedges to compel men to 
come in. Wesley felt some reluctance to follow his friend's 
example. He verily thought within himself, at an earlier pe- 
riod of his history, that it was almost a sin for souls to be saved 
o at of a church ; and now he had a shrinking from the unwont- 
ed step which Whitefield had taken. He knew, however, how 
to crucify the flesh, and he resolutely made himself more vile 
for his Master's sake. We think that Whitefield more fully 
emancipated himself from Church of England trammels than 
Wesley ever did. He had no brother of intense Church pro- 
clivities impeding his movements toward freedom. However 
we account for it, Wesley, to his latest day, showed a predilec- 
tion for the Established Church. A terrible indictment against 
the Church of England could be easily framed from the writ- 
ings of John Wesley, yet he was a Churchman to the last. His 
followers in England are often reproached for their alienation 
from the Established Church, and they are told in good set 
terms that in leaving the Church they departed from the 
spirit and counsel of their founder.* These taunts would be 

* See Dr. Rigg's " Wesley and the Church of England " in this volume.— Editob. 

Wesley and Whitefield. 353 

difficult to meet if Methodists regarded their founder as infal- 
lible, or maintained the duty of following him in every thing ; 
but men may have the highest admiration of a Christian hero 
and yet be faithful to their Lord's command, " Call no man 
master on the earth." 

In the matters named we may acknowledge that "Whitefield 
had the pre-eminence ; but after all, we give the palm without 
hesitation to Wesley. His greatness grows upon us. Study 
bis character and life, and he will loom larger and larger upon 
you. Dr. John Campbell had an inveterate dislike to the 
form of church polity set up by "Wesley. He had more than 
one controversy with its upholders, but his veneration for the 
man "Wesley was so great that he declared his belief that he 
would yet be regarded as the greatest Englishman that ever 
lived. This opinion will appear extravagant to many, but it 
will be thought less so by and by, when martial glory, high 
rank, intellectual greatness, will be thought less worthy of 
honor and distinction than turning many to righteousness and 
widening the bounds of the kingdom of Cod. 

We have said that Wesley and Whitefield had much in com- 
mon in the doctrines they preached. Still it was unity in di- 
versity. In the funeral sermon he preached for his friend, Wes- 
ley summed up the fundamental doctrines on which White- 
field every-where insisted as consisting in the new birth and 
justification by faith. On these " good old-fashioned doctrines," 
as Wesley described them, the two friends thought and spoke 
the same, and cordially agreed. So far there was " no schism 
in the body " of Methodist teachers. But with these doctrines 
on which they were in unison, Whitefield preached dogmas 
which Wesley rejected with all the energy of his nature. The 
friends of Whitefield would not, indeed, admit that Wesley had 
drawn a full or faithful portrait of their deceased leader. Un- 
conditional election and the perseverance of the saints were with 
Whitefield matters of high importance and paramount belief. 
These ought to have been included in any summary of his doc- 

354 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

trinal tenets. Perhaps they ought. JSTo doubt Whitefield was 
a thorough-paced Calvinist ; but Wesley showed his good taste 
by shunning, in the funeral sermon, what had been matter of 
controversy between him and his sainted friend. Had he 
alluded to them at all he could not well have avoided stating his 
disbelief of them ; and had the peculiarities of Calvinism been 
touched on, what could have been expected from him who 
embodied those peculiarities in the famous formula, that some 
will be saved do what they will, and the rest will be damned 
do what they can? 

Regret is sometimes expressed that Wesley and Whitefield 
should have separated. We cannot say we share in the regret. 
Matter's being as they were, separation was natural, unavoidable, 
desirable. " How can two walk together except they be 
agreed?" Union no doubt is strength, but then it must be 
union, not simply juxtaposition or nominal association. White- 
field might deplore Wesley's publication of his sermon on gen- 
eral redemption : Wesley might blame Whitefield for men- 
tioning names while attacking what he considered doctrinal 
errors : but these mutual criminations and recriminations were 
needless. What men believe to be a part of the counsel of 
God they must proclaim. Continued unity of action to Wes- 
ley and Whitefield, therefore, was only possible on the conceal- 
ment of their personal sentiments on matters of grave concern- 
ment. To men of such ardent zeal and high conscientiousness 
suppression of the truth was impossible. Some attempts at 
compromise and healing the breach, no doubt, were made. 
That in seeking to promote reconciliation Wesley " leaned too 
much toward Calvinism," we believe, on his own confession ; 
but fire and water cannot be made to coalesce. The systems of 
Calvin and Arminius, in agreement up to a given point, are 
utterly at variance beyond that point, and the yawning chasm 
between them cannot be bridged over. Even now we do not 
see how, in a connectional system, the " five points " of disa- 
greement could be left an open question. Men can preach 

Wesley and "Whitefield. 355 

Christ whether they be Calvinists or Arminians, but it is better 
for them to do it from different pulpits. 

Despite their doctrinal divergence there can be no doubt 
that these two saintly men retained an earnest affection and 
esteem for each other. What "Whitefield would have felt, or 
how he would have acted had he lived to know of the con- 
troversy that broke out after the publication of the Minutes of 
Conference for 1770, can only be a matter of conjecture. 
With his avowed Calvinism, we cannot suppose that he would 
have sympathized with the saintly Fletcher in his defenses, 
but neither will we believe that he would have homologated 
the unprincipled assaults of Toplady. The splendid legacy 
left to the Church of God by the vicar of Broadhembury in 
his magnificent hymn, 

' ' Rock of Ages, cleft for me, " 

will endear the name of Toplady to all lovers of sacred song, 
but our admiration would be higher if we were ignorant of the 
low scurrility, the unmeasured abuse, which he poured out on 
the/devoted head of an aged and venerable servant of God. 
Wesley had to endure the pelting scorn of half an age, and 
some of the vilest things uttered concerning him were spoken 
by those who thought themselves the peculiar favorites of 
Heaven. Christians are the salt of the earth, and they were 
the salt of the salt. 

Happily Whitefield died in the year when this embittered 
controversy had its origin. He was taken away from the evil 
to come. 

In doctrinal accuracy we give the pre-eminence to Wesley. 
We are far from saying that he sounded all the depths of the 
truth of God. And we readily admit that his teachings may 
exhibit some slight discrepancies ; yet we know of no interpret- 
er whose doctrines commend themselves more to our judg- 
ment and conscience as in harmony with the word of Script- 
ure and the facts of human experience. Nor do we expect 

356 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

that with the lapse of time his system of theology will be 

greatly improved upon. 

Poets may sing 

" Ring in the Christ that is to be," 

yet if the Christ of the future has to be a true Christ, then he 
is the Christ that is now. We do not believe that the funda- 
mental doctrines of Christianity, in which the Church of God 
has believed from the beginning, will ever be disproved. Eob- 
inson, the pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers, said that God had 
much truth yet to break out of his holy word. "We do not 
doubt it. But the truth yet to be found in Scripture cannot 
contradict the truth which it has already made plain. We 
cannot believe in a revelation that does not reveal ; and we be- 
lieve that the faith of the future will very largely be that which 
we find in the sermons and treatises of John Wesley, and 
the hymns of his gifted brother. 

As preachers it is not easy for us to compare the two men. 
Oratory can hardly be judged of at second-hand. Both were 
great preachers. Wesley was the more logical, Whitefield the 
more eloquent. Yet it seems a mistake to suppose that Wesley 
was a calm and dispassionate preacher, to whom a sermon was 
only like a little fireside chat. He counseled his preachers not 
to scream, yet he himself could at least be vehement. His 
preaching pace was not always an amble or a canter ; he some- 
times rode his steed at a fiery rate. 

In courage, physical and moral, the two men were equally 
remarkable. They could face a mob, they could resist a world. 
There are many men of known and tried courage who would 
quail before an angry crowd. The waves of the sea, when tem- 
pest-tossed, are terrible in their pitiless power, yet holy Script- 
ure classes them with the tumult of the people : " Which still- 
eth the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the 
tumult of the people." This tumult Wesley and Whitefield 
could brave. Their moral courage was as marked as their 
physical bravery. Raillery, taunts, opposition, vituperation, 

"Wesley and Whitepield. 357 

none of these things moved them. To their faith they added 
courage. Had they not, then, humanly speaking, the great 
revival of the eighteenth century could not have taken place. 

In singlemindedness the two men were alike. ~No one can 
doubt the entire devotedness of them both to God. The zeal 
of God's house ate them up. If they had ambition — the last 
frailty of great minds — it was of the most noble and commend- 
able kind. Their ambition was to honor their Master and ex- 
tend his kingdom, save souls from death, and hide a multitude 
of sins. That some grains of earthly alloy were mingled with 
the fine gold of their religious zeal we may admit, for they 
were men. Yet, on the whole, we believe that Church history 
of any age, of all ages, would find it difficult to produce two 
men of more apostolic character and spirit. They were dead to 
the world, they gloried only in the cross. To them to live 
was Christ, and to die was gain. Paul would have hailed them 
as brethren beloved, like-minded with himself, fellow-workers 
for the kingdom of God. 

They were both successful preachers. In this matter it may 
be done to men according to their faith, but not always to their 
puremindedness and zeal. Piety is not the sole requisite to 
ministerial success. There is such a thing as aptness to teach, 
and sanctified sagacity in turning men to God. JSTot every 
man wise unto salvation is wise in winning souls. God had 
given this wisdom to both Wesley and Whitefield in large 
measure. They each turned many to righteousness. How 
many were converted to God through their instrumentality 
the day shall declare. In one week of Whitefield's life we 
know he received a thousand letters from persons who, through 
his preaching, were awakened to spiritual anxiety. This cir- 
cumstance was without precedent in the history of the Church, 
and probably had no parallel in the subsequent life of White- 
field. Yet it shows the amazing spiritual power that attended 
his preaching, a power not confined to that ever-memorable 

week. Wesley's preaching was also attended with amazing 

358 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

power from on high, and many souls will be the crown of re- 
joicing of each in the day of the Lord. 

In one thing "Whitefield was obviously inferior to Wesley. 
He did not possess the organizing faculty. "Wesley was distin- 
guished for it almost beyond any other man. "Whitefield was 
a spiritual force, an impulse ; "Wesley was this, and a wise 
master-builder besides. "We are far from thinking that every 
great religious leader that arises should seek to perpetuate his 
name by the formation of a new sect. The divisions of Prot- 
estantism are undoubtedly its weakness, and we long to see its 
breaches healed rather than widened and multiplied. "We com- 
mend Charles H. Spurgeon, that, wielding the mighty influence 
he does in England, he founds no sect of Spurgeonites, but re- 
tains his place in the rank and file of the Baptist ministry. 
Yet even he has thought of conserving his work by new meth- 
ods and new organizations. His Pastor's College was notably 
an innovation, and its annual gatherings bring together a num- 
ber of men all bound, no doubt, to the denomination, but 
bound by peculiarities to each other. "We hope that the fruits 
of "Whitefield's ministry were not lost, though he did little to 
bind his converts together. Churches, both old and new, gath- 
ered many of them into their communion. "Wesley saw the 
importance of watching over the souls that had been brought 
to God by his own labors and those of his " fellow-helpers to 
the truth." He saw, too, how the work of God could be ex- 
tended by the employment of men who, it might be with small 
culture, but much shrewdness and abundant zeal, could labor 
in word and doctrine. Hence his class-meetings, his leaders, 
stewards, and itinerant preachers. Hence the formation of 
a system which has spread over the English-speaking world, 
laid hold of portions of the continent of Europe, invaded Hin- 
dostan, is known in the isles of the southern seas, and is making 
converts to-day in China. "We may not all approve of the 
precise form which Methodism assumed in the hands of its 
founder. The exclusion of the laity from its supreme counsel 

Wesley and Whitefield. 359 

soon led to agitation, upheavals, and convulsions. Both in En- 
gland and America, Churches in the direct line of descent from 
Wesley have found it needful to remedy what they thought 
was an original defect of their constitution. Yet this must be 
said for Wesley, that, unlike the paper constitutions of the 
first French Revolution, he devised a form of government that 
would work. And what a tribute to the constructive genius 
of the grand old man, that, amid all changes that have been 
adopted, and divisions that have taken place, the distinctive 
characteristics of his system are retained in every Church that 
claims to be of Wesleyan origin. There is a homogeneity in 
all the branches of Methodism ; having affinities with all Chris- 
tian Churches, they have special affinities with each other. 
"Lo, the people shall dwell alone." Nor is there the least 
likelihood of these peculiarities being lost, although, no doubt, 
modifications will take place. In all probability, while sun 
and moon endure, Churches will exist which trace their pater- 
nity to the venerable Wesley. 

Whether Wesley or Whitefield was the more intense man 
we do not know ; but certainly Wesley was a wiser man than 
his friend. Whitefield was a preacher, and so was Wesley 
But Wesley was also an acute logician, an able scholar, an 
accomplished hymnist, and a discriminating critic. 

Some of Wesley's views were far in advance of those of 
Whitefield. We will not specify Wesley's political opinions. 
These are certainly not to our taste. Few Englishmen of any 
type could be found now who would defend his views and 
utterances on the subject of the American War of Independ- 
ence. On the subject of slavery, however, how clear and ad- 
vanced were his views ! Once and again he denounces it in 
the strongest terms ; and it is interesting to think that 

" In age and feebleness extreme, " 

he wrote to William Wilberf orce, encouraging him to persevere 
in his benevolent but Herculean task. Whitefield, on the other 

360 The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 

hand, held property in slaves. Some men with strong vision 
are yet color-blind. 

Briefly we have compared and contrasted these two great 
names. Yet, be it ever remembered, they never regarded 
themselves as rivals, and perhaps would scarcely approve of us 
weighing them against each other in the critical balance. Cer- 
tainly we have cause to thank God for them both, and our 
thankfulness will be best shown by trying to follow their 
precious example : — 

" Lives of great men all remind us 

We can make our lives sublime, 
And, departing, leave behind us 

Footprints on the sands of time." 


IN the study of the marvelous fact of Methodism in Ch urch 
history certain names occur to you, and the persons repre- 
sented by these names pass and repass before your mental eye. 
Of course, the chief figure in the picture is that extraordinary 
man, second to none since the great apostle to the Gentiles. 
Grouped around that central object of attraction are several 
whose names shall be as imperishable as the system which, 
under God, he was instrumental in organizing, and which 
to-day is more vital with spiritual power than ever before. 

In this picture appears Charles "Wesley, the sweet singer of 
our Methodist Israel, who rendered invaluable services to the 
great religious movement known as Methodism. To-day his 
influence as a Christian poet of the highest order is recognized 
in the fact that his hymns are sung in every land and in 
every section of the Church of Christ. While there is sin to 
be repented of, while there is pardon to be rejoiced over, and 
heaven to be anticipated, the penitential, praiseful, and rap- 
turous hymns of Charles Wesley shall be sung to earth's 
remotest bound. Near the center of the group stands the 
seraphic John Fletcher, the saintly man, but powerful con- 
troversialist and defender of the generous gospel proclaimed 
by the fathers, and now by the sons of Methodism in every 
part of the habitable globe. There, on the same canvas, 
appear George Whitefield, and Adam Clarke, and Joseph 
Benson, and Yincent Perronet, and many of lesser fame too 
numerous to— mention. And there, too, appear the saintly 
women of earlier Methodism, Susanna Wesley, and Selina, 
Countess of Huntingdon, and the Lady Maxwell, and Mary 
Fletcher, and Hester Ann Rogers, and Elizabeth Ritchie, and 

362 The "Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

many others, whose holy lives, godly examples, and pious 
offices were its chiefest glory. The two central figures of this 
splendid picture — the sainted founder of Methodism and his 
equally sainted mother — claim our undivided attention. 

Can we think of the women of Methodism without re- 
membering that woman who, above all others, had most to do 
in fashioning the character of our illustrious founder ? My 
eye rests with peculiar satisfaction upon the queenly form of 
that " elect lady," whose influence upon John Wesley and upon 
Methodism cannot be overestimated. The mother of John 
"Wesley was a woman of singular beauty, of rare character, 
and of extraordinary intellectual accomplishments. Method- 
ism owes a debt of gratitude to Susanna "Wesley which can be 
paid only by fidelity to the principles which have made Meth- 
odism a power, if not a praise, in all the earth. 

Susanna Wesley, to indicate her influence over her son, 
has been called the foundress of Methodism. That we may 
see the influence of this richly-gifted woman upon her son, 
let us glance at her remarkable history. In Stevens' classic 
" History of Methodism " the reader may see a portrait of 
Mrs. Wesley which is a study for an artist. 

She was one of the most beautiful women of her day, or 
of any day. It was a stately, commanding beauty, giving 
evidence of great mental and moral power. In her girlhood 
this power displayed itself in a choice which led her to 
abandon the Puritan Church of her father for the Church of 
England. Her father, knowing her thoughtful turn and great 
determination, did not exercise his parental authority in com- 
pelling her to go with him to a non-conforming Church. 

It is, however, in the parsonage, as wife and mother, that 
she shone with brighter luster. As a wife she was independ- 
ent in thought and vigorous in action in her own sphere, 
but religiously recognized the headship of her husband. 

When Mr. Wesley was from home Mrs. Wesley felt it her 
duty to keep up the worship of God in her own house. She 

John "Wesley and His Mother. 363 

not only prayed for, but with, her family. At such times 
she took the spiritual care and direction of the children and 
servants upon herself, and sometimes even the neighbors 
shared the benefit of her instructions. This, in one case, led 
to consequences little expected, which showed a remarkable 
trait in the character of this extraordinary and excellent wom- 
an. The account was first published by Mr. John "Wesley, 
who remarks that "his mother, as well as her father and 
grandfather, her husband and her three sons, had been in 
her measure a preacher of righteousness." 

Some neighbors happening to come in during these exer- 
cises, and being permitted to stay, were so pleased and prof- 
ited as to desire permission to come again. This was granted ; 
a. good report of the meeting became general; many requested 
leave to attend, and the house was soon filled — more than 
two hundred at last attending ; and many were obliged to go 
away for want of room. 

As she wished to do nothing without her husband's knowl- 
edge and approbation, she acquainted him with the meet- 
ing, and the circumstances out of which it arose. "While he 
approved of her zeal and good sense, he stated several ob- 
jections to its continuance. 

To his objections she wrote in substance as follows : — 

I heartily thank you for dealing so plainly and faithfully with me in 
a matter of no common concern. The main of your objections to our 
Sunday evening meetings are: first, that it will look particular; sec- 
ondly, my sex ; and lastly, your being at present in a public station and 
character. To all of which I shall answer briefly. 

As to its being particular, I grant it is; and so is almost every thing 
that is serious, or that may any way advance the glory of God or the 
salvation of souls, if it be performed out of a pulpit, or in the way of 
common conversation ; because in our corrupt age the utmost care and 
diligence have been used to banish all discourse of God or spiritual con- 
cern out of society, as if religion were never to appear out of the closet, 
and we were to be ashamed of nothing so much as of professing our- 
selves to be Christians. 

364 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

To your second I reply, that as I am a woman, so I am also mistress 
of a large family. And though the superior charge of the souls con- 
tained in it lies upon you, as head of the family, and as their minister; 
yet in your absence' I cannot but look upon every soul you leave under 
my care as a talent committed to me, under a trust, by the great Lord of 
all the families of heaven and earth. I thought it my duty to spend 
some part of the Lord's day in reading to and instructing my family, 
especially in your absence, when, having no afternoon service, we have 
so much leisure for such exercises ; and such time I esteemed spent in a 
way more acceptable to God than if I had retired to my own private de- 
votions. This was the beginning of my present practice ; other people 
coming in and joiuing with us was purely accidental. 

.Your third objection I leave to be answered by your own judgment. 

If you do, after all, think fit to dissolve this assembly, do not tell me 
that you desire me to do it, for that will not satisfy my conscience; but 
send me your positive command, in such full and express terms as may 
absolve me from all guilt and punishment for neglecting this opportunity 
of doing good when you and I shall appear before the great and awful 
tribunal of our Lord Jesus Christ.* 

Such was the spirit of the earnest Christian worker, and 
yet the submission of the godly wife ! 

Mrs. Wesley was the mother of nineteen children. Her 
means were slender, but her energy, tact, and wisdom were 
better than thousands of gold and silver. Home was her 
providential sphere for Christian as well as for maternal serv- 
ices. The parsonage was a school as well as a home ; the mis- 
tress of the house was teacher as well as mother, and with a 
discipline bordering upon severity, yet prompted by love, 
she taught and trained her numerous progeny as few families 
have been educated at home. Mr. "Wesley, doubtless, see- 
ing his wife's special talent for the work, wisely left it to 
her, and seconded her efforts in every possible way. Ever 
after the fire in which their home was consumed, and from 
which John, while a child, was almost miraculously rescued, 
the mother felt that he was spared for some great purpose, 

* See Moore's "Life of Wesley" and "Wesley's Journal" for a fuller text of 
this letter. — Editor. 

John Wesley and His Mother. 365 

and therefore devoted special attention to his character and 

When John Wesley left home for school or college, his 
loving mother followed him with a watchful sympathy and a 
judicious counsel that molded his character and helped to fit 
him for his great destiny, and which was highly prized by him 
down to his latest breath. We see the wealth of her mind, 
and the religious turn of her thoughts, not only in her wise and 
motherly letters to John, but in her more formal compositions, 
such as her exposition of the Creed. 

She was prepared to meet the spiritual difficulties of her son, 
and to direct and encourage him by preceptive teachings of 
the highest order. Indeed, she seemed to combine the wisdom 
of a professor of divinity with the beautiful tact of Christian 
womanliness and tender motherhood. To her John Wesley 
looked, and never in vain, for help and sympathy which sto'od 
him well in times of perplexity. • 

There is some doubt as to the time of her conversion, Dr. 
Clarke and others believing that it must have occurred in early 
life, while, on the other hand, persons likely to be as well in- 
formed and as deeply interested, place it in the evening of life's 
day. This, doubtless, is based upon the incident of that special 
6acrament, in the observance of which she was filled with the 
Holy Spirit. " In receiving the sacrament from her son-in- 
law, Mr. Hall, when he presented the cup with these words, 
' The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for you,- 
she felt them strike through her heart, and she then knew 
that God, for Christ's sake, had forgiven her all her sins." 

No one, I think, can read Dr. Clarke's " Wesley Family " 
without regarding Mrs. Wesley as a true child of God from 
early life. The blessed privilege of knowing of our acceptance 
in the Beloved was a strange doctrine in those days, and many 
struggled along in comparative gloom, not daring to rejoice 
in the witness of the Spirit. The experience of blessing in the 
sacrament was likely that of a baptism of the Holy Ghost, 

3G6 The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 

giving her a sweet and more unmistakable evidence of conscious 
salvation. All the evidence of salvation that could be seen in 
a holy every-day life was evinced in the walk and conversa- 
tion of Susanna "Wesley. 

The following sentiments from her own pen will establish 
the point beyond controversy : 

If to esteem and have the highest reverence for Thee — if constantly and 
sincerely to acknowledge thee the supreme, the only desirable good, be to 
love thee — I do love thee! 

If comparatively to despise and undervalue all the world contains 
which is esteemed great, fair, or good — if earnestly and constantly to 
desire thee, thy favor, thine acceptance, thyself, rather than any or all 
things thou hast created, be to love thee — I do love thee! 

If .to rejoice in thy essential majesty and glory — if to feel a vital joy 
overspread and cheer my heart at each perception of thy blessedness, at 
every thought that thou art God, and that all things are in thy power — 
that there is none superior or equal to thee, be to love thee — I do love 
thee ! * 

In these reflections and meditations the reader will see 
something of the mind, the spirit, the heart, and the piety of 
Susanna Wesley. Of her last moments her son John gives 
the following account : — 

I left Bristol on the evening of Sunday, July 18, 1742, and on Tuesday 
came to London. I found my mother on the borders of eternity ; but 
she had no doubt nor fears, nor any desire but as soon as God should 
call, to depart and be with Christ. 

About three in the afternoon I went to see my mother and found her 
change was near. I sat down on the bedside; she was in her last con- 
flict, unable to speak, but I believe quite sensible. Her look was calm 
and serene, and her eyes fixed upward while we, commended her soul to 
God. From three to four the silver cord was loosing, and the wheel 
breaking at the cistern ; and then, without any struggle, or sigh, or groan, 
the soul was set at liberty. We stood round the bed and fulfilled her 
last request, uttered before she lost her speech : ' ' Children, as I am 
released, sing a psalm of praise to God." 

Almost an innumerable company of people being gathered together, 
about five in the afternoon I committed to the earth the body of my 

John "Wesley and His Mother. 367 

mother to sleep with her fathers. The portion of Scripture from which 
I afterward spoke was: "I saw a great white throne, and him that sat 
on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away, and there 
was found no place for them. And I saw the dead small and great 
stand before God ; and the books were opened. And the dead were 
judged out of those things which were written in the books, according 
to their works." It was one of the most solemn assemblies I ever saw or 
expect to see on this side eternity. 
We set up a plain stone, inscribed with the following words: — 

Here lies the body of Mrs. Susanna Wesley, the youngest and last surviving 
daughter of Dr. Samuel Annesley. 

" In sure and certain hope to rise, 
And claim her mansion in the skies, 
A Christian here her flesh laid down, 
The cross exchanging for a crown. 

" True daughter of affliction, she, 
Inured to pain and misery, 
Mourned a long night of griefs and fears — 
A legal night of seventy years. 

" The Father then revealed his Son, 
Him in the broken bread made known ; 
She knew and felt her sins forgiven, 
And found the earnest of her heaven. 

" Meet for the fellowship above, 
She heard the call, ' Arise, my love ! ' 
'I come,' her dying looks replied, 
And lamb-like, as her Lord, she died." 

Dr. Clarke was utterly dissatisfied with the epitaph, and 
with that sentiment in the poetry : " A legal night of seventy 
years." The doctor makes out a clear case of spiritual life be- 
fore the season of special blessing at the table of the Lord. 

John Wesley and the movement called Methodism may be 
studied and understood without reference to his father ; but it 
would be impossible to do so without recognizing the place 
and power of the mother. More than any other, she restrained 
and guided her illustrious son in the wonderful work to which 
God had manifestly called him. 

"What would Methodism have been in the absence of lay 

368 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

preaching? It could never have accomplished what, under 
God, it has been enabled to do, without its powerful aid. But 
for the emphatic advice of Mrs. Wesley to her son, and but for 
his respeet for his mother's judgment, it is hard to imagine 
what might have been the result. 

Perhaps the most irregular part of Mr. Wesley's conduct was his 
employing lay preachers — persons without any ordination by the imposi- 
tion of hands; and the fullest proof that we can have of Mrs. Wesley's 
approving most heartily every thing in. the doctrine and discipline 
of her son was her approval of lay preaching ; or, to use the words of her 
father-in-law, John Westley, of Whitchurch, "the preaching of gifted 
men ■without episcopal ordination." This began in her time, and she 
repeatedly sat under the ministry of the first man, Mr. Thomas Maxfield, 
who attempted to officiate among the Methodists in this hitherto unpre- 
cedented way. 

It was in Mr. Wesley's absence that Mr. Maxfield began to preach. 
Being informed of this new and extraordinary thing, he hastened back 
to London to put a stop to it. Before he took any decisive step he 
spoke to his mother on the subject, and informed her of his intention. 

She said, (I have had the account from Mr. Wesley himself,) " My 
son, I charge you before God, beware what you do; for Thomas Max- 
field is as much called to preach the gospel as ever you were." 

This one thing in the life of Mrs. Wesley renders her wor- 
thy of the grateful remembrance of all who have derived 
spiritual benefit from the lay preachers of Methodism. 

John Wesley was a very devoted son, and felt, as his mother 
advanced in years, that he must take his father's place in 
caring for her, and smoothing her passage to the tomb. 
There never lived a more self-denying mother than Susanna 
Wesley. Here is an incident which equally reflects credit on 
mother and son. John Wesley, when a young man, was in- 
vited to go out upon a mission to the Indians of North 
America. He at once and firmly declined. On being pressed 
for a statement of his objection, he referred to his recently 
widowed mother, and to his own relation to her, in these touch- 
ing words : " I am the staff of her age ; her chief support and 

John "Wesley and His Mother. 369 

comforter." He was asked what would be his decision were 
his mother agreeable to such a thing. 2sTot thinking that such 
a sacrifice could be made by his mother, he at once said, that 
if his mother would cheerfully acquiesce in the proposal, he 
would be led to act upon it as a call from God. The ven- 
erable matron, on being consulted, gave this memorable re- 
ply : " Had I twenty sons, I should rejoice if they were all so 
employed, though I should never see them more." Rarely 
has history recorded the names of such a couple. 

It is a high compliment to say that they were worthy of each 
other. It is little wonder that Adam Clarke, in his enthusiastic 
admiration of Mrs. "Wesley, said : " Had I a muse of the strong- 
est pinion I should not fear to indulge it in its highest flights 
in sketching out the character of this superexcellent woman." 

"Who can glance over the Methodist world to-day, and see 
its - stately churches, its crowded congregations, its vast mis- 
sionary operations, its Sunday-schools with millions of scholars, 
and its educational institutions of every grade and for both 
sexes, without looking back over the record of its limited his- 
tory, and wondering at the stupendous result ? 

If God ever raised up a man for a great work, God surely 
called and sent forth John "Wesley to be the organizer and 
leader of the hosts of Methodism ; and if God ever prepared a 
handmaid of his to be the mother of one specially commis- 
sioned and qualified to revive his Church, God surely raised up 
Susanna Wesley to be the mother and spiritual guide of the 
great reformer of the Churches in the eighteenth century. 

Much as John Wesley saw of the goodness of the Lord in 
the salvation of sinners, and in the gathering of the saved into 
societies, he was permitted to see little as compared with what 
has been accomplished since his death. Though dead, he still 
liveth and speaketh in the system which he originated, in the 
hymns which he sung, and in the glorious doctrines which he 
preached, " not in word only, but also in power, and in the 
Holy Ghost, and in much assurance." 

370 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

In the impartial review of John "Wesley and his mother, we 
are constrained to acknowledge that more, far more than any 
one else, she not only influenced her honored son as to his own 
character, but also stamped the impress of her discipline and 
doctrinal views upon the Methodist system. In many of John 
"Wesley's opinions we see the reproduction of his mother's 
teaching, as revealed in her letters to him. 

Every Christian wife and mother throughout Methodism 
should make the life and character of Susanna Wesley a con- 
stant study, and the good effect would soon be manifest upon 
the discipline of our families, the welfare of our children, and 
the piety of our Churches. The distinguished son and no less 
distinguished mother are reaping the rich reward of their 
consecrated lives in a " better country, that is, a heavenly." 


AS John and Charles Wesley were united in heart and aim 
and work while living, so are they united in immortality of 
fame and glory. If John was the head, Charles was the heart, 
of Methodism. As Providence destined John Wesley to orig- 
inate and perpetuate the great Methodist revival, the organizing 
faculty was given to him in large measure, and men were raised 
up-for all departments of the work. The student of the his- 
tory of those times can never cease to wonder at the constella- 
tion of talents that revolved around John Wesley as a center. 
But all were utilized by his master mind. Humanly speaking, 
John Wesley's work would have been a comparative failure 
without the luminous minds, the heroic hearts, and fiery tongues 
providentially prepared for the epoch. All this assemblage of 
stalwart strength, splendid genius, and rapt piety, would have 
soon consumed itself in the fires of fanaticism or chilled itself 
in the frosts of formalism, if a commanding mind had not 
been providentially furnished to give coherency and perma- 
nency to the movement. We never weary of reading and re- 
reading the deeds of heroism of the colleagues of Wesley. But 
they can scarcely be considered apart from John Wesley with- 
out destroying or obscuring their historic significance. 

Among the coadjutors of John Wesley, Charles Wesley 
must ever hold the pre-eminent place. These two were so 
related and interdependent that the historic John Wesley could 
scarcely have existed without Charles, and Charles Wesley could 
scarcely have become the lyric soul of Methodism but for his 
brother's methodizing mind, that made Methodism possible as a 
continued system. 

These two brothers were double stars, whose lights cannot 

374 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

well be spared. They have inner and vital and organic rela- 
tions that do not appear at first sight. ' The Omniscient Provi- 
dence raised up these brothers as fellow-workers, one and in- 
separable in spirit and aim. They exerted a reciprocal influence 
which made each a more complete instrument for the working 
out of the grand and gracious designs of Providence. 

Consider this wonderful and beautiful relation of the illus- 
trious brothers. Charles was a divinely ordained agent and 
helper of John Wesley. 

1. Charles Wesley was the helper of John in their years of 
struggle for saving faith. Their legal service, their gloomy 
dispensation of the law, their period of asceticism and penance 
and struggle, was long and terrible. But for the union of these 
sympathetic hearts in mutual faith, Methodism perhaps had 
never been known as a force in history. 

2. Charles Wesley was the first called u Methodist." Associated 
with his band of earnest souls in Oxford University, he was 
using all means of grace, all self-denial, all deeds of charity, 
in order to find the peace of the gospel. But this band, ear- 
nest as they were, would, in all probability, have dissolved, had 
not John Wesley returned to Oxford at the right time, and 
placed himself at their head. 

3. Charles, some days earlier than his brother, was made a 
happy partaker of saving faith. We know not how different 
might have been the currents of modern Church history if 
Charles Wesley's conversion had not occurred as it did and 
when it did. Their biographers tell us that the joyous conver- 
sion of Charles greatly encouraged his brother John, and in a 
few days he, too, rejoiced in like precious faith. Without this 
clear, triumphant conversion of Charles, as a prototype for all 
Methodism, John might have stopped short of his sublime pos- 
sibilities, and Methodism, if existing at all, might have been a 
mere revised system of theology. 

4. Charles Wesley was the first preacher of the new faith. 
The true Methodist evangelism was begun by Charles Wesley 

John and Ciiakles Wesley. 375 

while John was in Germany. The testimony of Charles in 
public and private was followed by happy conversions amid 
shouts of exultation, so characteristic of Methodism from the 
first. Who can estimate the influence upon John Wesley of 
these evangelistic tours of Charles in the glow of his earliest 
love ? The effects of the preaching of Charles were wonderful, 
and doubtless influenced all the subsequent revival movement. 

5. The enthusiasm, of Charles was a help to John Wesley. 
A great general is both brave and prudent, but more pru- 
dent than brave. Without some coadjutors who are more 
brave than prudent, the best -general can scarcely succeed in a 
difficult and perilous campaign. Charles Wesley knew nothing 
of prudence or caution in his warfare against the hosts of siru 
He dashed into the enemy's ranks like a whirlwind. But the 
incarnate whirlwind was needed in that heroic period. Mar- 
shall Key himself was not more brave than Charles Wesley. 
It is but reasonable to believe that John Wesley could not have 
won his first decisive victories without the dash and daring of 
his brother. John's philosophic coolness needed the contact 
and contagion of the flaming enthusiasm of Charles. Method- 
ism is doubtless indebted to Charles Wesley for somewhat of 
its hopefulness and buoyancy of spirit. That such a great, 
glowing soul should have poured itself into Methodism in 
its plastic period was no accident, but a part of the particu- 
lar plan whose unfoldings have been the wonder of modern 
Church history. 

6. Charles Wesley was the companion and friend of John 
Wesley for three fourths of a century. Through a long life 
of eighty years Charles was the trusted, true, and intimate 
friend of his illustrious brother. We shall never be able, with 
the mathematics of earth, to calculate the debt of John Wes- 
ley and of Methodism to Charles Wesley for his sympathetic 
companionship and unchangeable friendship through the first 
half century of Methodism. If ever man needed intelligent 

and sympathetic companionship, surely John Wesley needed it 

376 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

amid all Ms unparalleled trials, perplexities, and persecutions. 
Again, we express the doubt whether John "Wesley would have 
achieved his colossal work as a reformer without his learned 
and lion-hearted brother Charles, whose faith and friendship 
never failed. 

7. Charles Wesley's chief glory, as co-worker with his brother 
John, was his gift of lyric poetry. "While John "Wesley put 
the hew theology into logical forms for all future time, Charles 
versified the doctrines, and sang them to his generation and all 
generations. As Luther's Reformation was carried all over 
Germany on the winged words of song, so the Wesleyan Ref- 
ormation was assured of success when all England and Amer- 
ica began to sing Charles Wesley's hymns. Yery few, com- 
paratively, read John "Wesley's exact statements of doctrine, 
but the millions sing Charles "Wesley's no less exact statements 
of doctrine in his wonderful hymns. These hymns immedi- 
ately commanded the admiration of the cultivated and the sym- 
pathy of all. Strange as is the statement, Methodism is better 
known through Charles Wesley than through its illustrious 
founder. Millions every Sunday sing or hear sung the burn- 
ing words and breathing numbers of Charles Wesley, -while 
John Wesley, the founder, is less directly known by the masses. 

Such was the work of Charles Wesley as the coadjutor of his 
brother ; such the influence he exercised on his brother, and 
for his brother. But this influence, as we have seen, was recip- 
rocal. Charles owed an immeasurable debt to his brother. 
Without John Wesley's clear, crystalline mind, Charles could 
never have formulated and enunciated the new faith. His 
poetry might have been brilliant, but his theology, without the 
microscopic criticism of his brother, could not have been 
trusted. John Wesley was a natural and trained theologian, 
and soon shaped his doctrines into transparent formularies 
which had an incalculable influence in guiding the soaring gen- 
ius of Charles. We accordingly are not surprised to read of 
the criticisms of John on the poetry of Charles. 

John and Chakles Wesley. 377 

To prepare Charles "Wesley for his sublime mission provi- 
dence brought together most favorable influences and agencies. 
A.nd why should not providence reveal a solicitude in prepar- 
ing this chosen vessel of mercy and benediction for the millions 
of earth? 

1. Charles Wesley was fitted for his mission by inherited- 
genius. The Wesley family, in point of genius, was, perhaps, 
the most remarkable family of modern times. It has been said 
that " no drop of blood in the whole Wesley family, in all its 
branches, was destitute of genius. For generations they were 
poets, musicians, preachers, and scholars." But we may add, 
the full effervescence of this ancestral genius was found in 
Charles Wesley. It is both rational and scriptural to believe 
that the godlike gift of genius was bestowed on him expressly 
to make it possible for him to achieve his high mission as the 
chief singer of the Methodist revival. 

2. He was fitted for his mission oy rare scholarship. His 
thirst for knowledge was insatiable. His scholarship was mar- 
velous.* God gave him this sublime aspiration for knowledge 
to make it possible for him to do his work for the ages. With- 
out his rich, elegant, and exact culture he could not have been 
fitted for his mission as hymn writer f6r all classes of minds. 

3. He was fitted for his mission by God-given pangs for 
sin. His work was the task of writing words for all hearts and 
for all time. It behooved him to suffer in all points like his 
brethren. The Holy Spirit unveiled the horrors of sin to his 
inner vision. No man can sympathize with heart-pangs till he 
has felt the same. ~No man can express the horrors of convic- 
tion for sin till he can speak from the depths of his own expe- 
rience. Charles Wesley was made to feel all this for himself 
and for the millions whose experience he was destined to inter- 
pret in immortal song. 

4. He was fitted for his mission by an experience of the joys 
of salvation. The bold imagery of prophet and psalmist was 
* " He was a thorough scholar in classical and biblical literature." — Abel Stevens. 

378 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

more than poetry to him. To his glad heart the " trees clapped 
their hands," and " the hills were joyful together." The tri- 
umph of his soul over the guilt and gloom of sin was ecstatic 
and complete, fitting him to sympathize with souls in loftiest 
heights, and to sing their joys for them. Charles "Wesley 
could never have tuned his harp to sing so sublimely of the 
joys of salvation if he had simply heard or read of them. He 
must first feel them and then express them. When his heart- 
strings quiver with the melody of heaven his harp-strings 
must sound responsively. He sings because he must sing. 
He sings as the birds sing — for very joy. ]STo saint can climb 
so high as not to be able to sing his joys in the hymns of 
Charles "Wesley. 

5. He was fitted for his mission as the lyric interpreter of 
the inner life by a wondrous gaze and grip of faith. His 
nervous verses are " vital in every part " with an all-pervading 
and all-conquering faith. His faith was the special gift of God, 
and made him more than a match for all tasks, all toils, and all 
trials. It was fitting that it should be so. He was destined to 
sing for the millions who need words to voice their struggling, 
conquering faith. 

6. He was fitted for Ms mission by great afflictions. We 
can conceive of his exemption by providence from all bitter 
affliction, personal and domestic. But this would have unfitted 
him for half his mission as the interpreter and singer of the 
/;riefs of the worshiping millions whose devotions he was des- 
tined to voice in immortal hymns. Thus the Omniscient Provi- 
dence sent grievous afflictions to blight his home, and then sent 
grace to bear all in patience and sweetness of soul. Thus his 
heart was tuned to sing of the cup of bitter grief, and then of 
the cup of sweetest consolation. 

7. He was fitted for his mission by fierce persecution. All 
that will five godly in Christ Jesus must and shall suffer perse- 
cution, more or less. And they need a fitting hymn to litter 
their complaint, their faith, and their victory. Charles "Wesley 

John and Charles Wesley. 379 

felt the cold steel of persecution enter his own heart. But it 
only wounded his heart to cause it, like the spice-tree, to shed a 
sweeter aroma. Those who insulted and persecuted Charles 
Wesley with such relentless fury knew not that they were the 
occasion of fitting him to sing with a new melody the grace 
that triumphs over men and devils. 

8. He was fitted for his mission by wondrous knowledge 
of Bible truth and language. His poetry was not inspired 
by Homer and Yirgil. It was not sentimental, like that of 
"Watts. It was not philosophical, like that of Addison ; but it 
was intensely and singularly scriptural in spirit and language 
and metaphor. His soul was filled and fired with scriptural 
truth. The attentive reader will wonder how exactly Charles 
Wesley can confine the rushing tide of his emotions in the 
Scripture channel, expressing all things in the language and 
imagery of Scripture. In many of his hymns verse after 
verse is a mosaic of Scripture gems. 

9. He was fitted for his mission by an inexhaustible fertil- 
ity of mind. His poetic fountain was perennial. There 
seemed to be no bound, no end, to his power to produce poetry. 
Poems blossomed forth from his soul as easily as blossoms are 
shed from an orchard in spring-time. On every occasion, grave 
or gay, a poem was ready to pour itself out in a fervid torrent 
in crystalline thought and musical numbers. Never did a lyric 
poet write so much and so well. After publishing ten volumes 
duodecimo, he left ten more in manuscript. And if some 
poems were confessedly superior to the rest, none of his produc- 
tions were without a spark of the genius that has immortal- 
ized his name. 

10. Lastly, Providence, by a happy blending of all brilliant 
of ts, fitted him for his mission as the sweet singer of the new 
evangel. Watts was and is Wesley's only rival. This is gen- 
erally admitted. But in all the elements that make the Chris- 
tian lyric poet, Wesley is superior. Indeed, Watts generously 
admitted the superiority of Wesley in his famous eulogy of 

380 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

Wesley's " "Wrestling Jacob." The great difference between 
"Wesley and "Watts is in the experimental character of "Wesley's 
hymns. "Watts describes Christian virtues and sentiments as 
a looker-on ; "Wesley expresses them as from the depth of his 
own being. "Watts hymns his aspirations; "Wesley does this 
and more, for he expresses his fruition of the gladdening grace 
of the gospel. 

"Wesley goes as far as "Watts up the " mount of redeeming 
love," and then goes on and up till he ceases to climb, and 
soars away into the skies. Watts sings sweetly as the caged 
bird ; Wesley sings as the bird free, and winging his flight 
heavenward. Watts was more of a general poet ; Wesley was 
more of a lyric poet for the Church. Watts was more of a 
poet of nature ; Wesley was more of a poet of grace. Watts 
was a poet of the old prophetic dispensation ; Wesley was a 
poet of the new pentecostal dispensation. Watts was the poet 
of aspiration; Wesley was the poet of inspiration. Watts 
was the poet of hope ; Wesley was the poet of fruition. A 
single stanza from each will reveal the contrast. Watts looks 
longingly toward the summit of Pisgah, and sings : 

Could we but climb where Moses stood, 

And view the landscape o'er, 
Not Jordan's stream, nor death's cold flood, 

Should fright us from the shore. 

Wesley has already climbed the mountain top, and sings : 

The promised land, from Pisgah's top, 

I now exult to see : 
My hope is full, O glorious hope ! 

Of immortality. 

Now, all these gifts of mind and heart and grace God gave 
to Charles Wesley to prepare him for his place as the 
hymnist of the new theology. His collections of hymns have 
been published to the number of millions of copies. They are 
found in all the Protestant hymn books throughout the Chris- 

John and Charles Wesley. 381 

tian world. They are translated and sung in heathen lands. 
These wondrous lyrics — depicting the pains of the penitent, 
the raptures of the pardoned, the triumphs of the tempted, 
and the beatific visions of the dying — will live, and must ever 
live, while man shall need words to express the deepest and 
loftiest experiences of the immortal soul. 

Such was Charles Wesley — the trusted companion of his 
illustrious brother John, the first preacher of the new evangel, 
the seraphic saint in life, the fairest efflorescence of Wes- 
leyan genius, and of all the Christian lyric poets of modern 
times, the prince.* 

* He (Charles Wesley) was the first member of the 'Holy Club' at Oxford; 
the first to receive the name of Methodist ; the first of the two brothers who ex- 
perienced regeneration ; and the first to administer the sacraments in Methodist 
societies apart from the Church ; the first, and for many years the chief, man 

to conduct Methodist worship in Church hours, which he did to the last in the 
London chapels. As a preacher he was more eloquent than his brother. — 

Abel Stevens. 

Many of Wesley's hymns are bold, daring, and magnificent.— Milner. 

I would give all I have ever written for the credit of being the author of 
Charles Wesley's unrivaled hymn "Wrestling Jacob." — Isaac Watts. 

I would rather have written that hymn of Wesley's, 

"Jesus, lover of my soul, 
Let me to thy bosom fly,'' 

than to have the fame of all the kings that ever sat on the earth. It is more 
glorious. It has more power in it. I would rather have written such a hymn 
than to have heaped up all the treasures of the richest man on the globe. He will 
die. His money will go to his heirs, and they will divide it. But that hymn will 
go on singing until the last trump brings forth the angel band ; and then, I think, 
it will mount up on some lip to the very presence of God. — Henry Ward 

It may be affirmed that there is no principal element of Christianity, no main 
article of belief, as professed by Protestant Churches ; that there is no moral or 
ethical sentiment peculiarly characteristic of the Gospel ; no height or depth of 
feeling proper to the spiritual life, that does not find itself emphatically and 
pointedly and clearly conveyed in some stanzas of Charles Wesley's hymns. — 
Isaac Taylor. 

A body of experimental and practical divinity. — John Wesley. 

No poems have been so much treasured in the memory, or so frequently 
quoted on a death-bed. — Robert Southey. 

For fifty years, Christ, as the redeemer of men, had been the subject of his 
effective ministry and of his loftiest songs, and he may be said to have died with 
a hymn of Christ upon his lips. — Thomas Jackson. 

382 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

His last sickness was long, but was borne with "unshaken confidence in Christ 
which kept his mind in perfect peace." He called his wife to his bedside, and, 
requesting her to take a pen, dictated his last but sublime poetical utterance : 

" In age and feebleness extreme, 
Who shall a helpless worm redeem? 
Jesus, my only hope thou art, 
Strength of my failing flesh and heart : 
O could I catch one smile from thee, 
And drop into eternity I " 

— Abel Stevens. 
The notes above have been added by the Editor. 


AGEEAT river may be traced to a single fountain, but 
the fountain itself is a stream from some other source. 
The springs of the Amazon and the Mississippi are merely 
outflows of water-courses that are hidden from the eye, and, 
on emerging from the bosom of the earth — the secret place 
of Omnipotence — they bring from the darkness those mighty 
forces which sweep them onward through fertile lands to the 
awaiting sea. We speak the language of the eye when we 
say that the river originated at such a point of latitude, for 
it was flowing in another realm before we had knowledge of 
its geography. So, too, with providential movements. The 
circumstances attending them are exposed to view while their 
causes lie concealed beneath the surface. If we consider only 
their proximate sources, we may explain them to the intel- 
lect of observation. But this is partial. It is as unsatisfy- 
ing to insight as to faith, since it leaves the core of the 
inquiry untouched. In all this world's affairs instinct is res- 
olute in finding out the beginnings of things. Nor is the in- 
stinct unrewarded. Second causes repay the backward search. 
Only the lowest utilitarianism — the animal brain in the 
senses — is content with explanations that stop on the outside. 
A very meager philosophy of aesthetics would that be which 
taught us to admire the chisel that carved the Apollo Bel- 
videre of the Yatican, without reference to the ideal of 
thought whence the statue came. And equally impoverishing 
to all our higher nature is that sort of reasoning which sends 
us from the majestic oak to the little acorn, and then, by not 
showing the power of the Creator couched in the acorn itself, 
fails to complement the first impression of grandeur. 

384 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

Where religious revolutions are concerned, the method of 
investigation which seeks to understand their original sources 
is all the more important. Such revolutions, sublime in 


character and infinite in results, cannot be located amoner 
phenomena that simply address the intellect. Reaching be- 
yond mere thought, they appeal to the mind, to the whole 
spiritual nature, and hence the claims of sentiment and feel- 
ing, both as to modes and ends of culture, must be taken 
into account. If history were one of the earliest media of 
divine manifestation — if it were placed under the guardianship 
of the Almighty, and deemed worthy of direct inspiration — 
it would surely commend itself to our careful and painstaking 
study, now that God has resigned it to the hands of men. 
And where Christianity, as the main factor in any particu- 
lar history, is directly involved, it becomes us to feel the 
pressure of a supreme obligation to search the annals of the 
past as those who would "justify the ways of God to men." 
Moreover, these historic providences, working out their issues 
on vast arenas, and incorporating them into the hereditary 
laws of society, are the conjoint products of divine and hu- 
man agency. As such they become bone of our bone, flesh 
of our flesh ; and as such they go, without abatement or ex- 
aggeration, into the common stock of a race under God's 
training. Only in this sense does history speak with a voice 
of infinite meaning. It tells us of God in the past, that we 
may see him in the present and expect him in the future. 

To comprehend Methodism as a great religious movement, 
we must trace the antecedent operations of providence, by 
which it became possible for this system to assume a certain 
organic form. The distinctive shape it put on, the place it 
took among the foremost economies of the age, and the marvel- 
ous influence it has exerted, cannot be referred to any happy 
conjuncture of circumstances. By no accident was England its 
birthplace. The cradle, the nursery, the parental home, were 
made ready for its advent. Ancestral traditions whispered 

Pkovidence of God in Methodism. 385 

some such development of providence; and if no prophecy 
sounded the note of near approach, the signs of the times en- 
couraged large expectations. The instincts of private hearts — ■ 
the instincts, too, of society, which statesmen rarely notice till 
they are published in actions — pointed clearly enough to an era 
close at hand when a vast religious and social change would 
occur. Had not materials been slowly collecting for an edifice 
that should shelter the homeless multitude— wanderers, exiles, 
and outcasts? And what was needed now but an architect 
skilled to find the corner-stone from which the structure should 
rise in symmetry of parts and stateliness of proportions ? 

Nor was it a matter of chance that the eighteenth century, 
which witnessed the rise and rapid progress of Methodism, fur- 
nished a field for its activity. The field, indeed, was broad, 
open, and diversified. It included mountain heights and ob- 
scure valleys ; hidden solitudes and thronged thoroughfares ; 
hamlets and cities. Within its range were found the ancient 
seats of metropolitan refinement, and not far distant the abodes 
where barbarism lurked undisturbed. Almost side by side 
stood the mansions of the rich and the huts of the poor ; the 
libraries of the student and the workshops of the mechanics ; 
cathedrals and universities ; factories, dock-yards, foundries, and 
coal-pits ; alike in this, that they were outwardly united in the 
gothic variety of modern civilization, while wanting a supreme 
force to give them a unity more solid and compact. But this 
great field that the England of the eighteenth century present- 
ed had been prepared by Providence for the occupancy of Meth- 
odism. Had Wesley appeared at any time in the seventeenth 
century he could have found no sphere like that which he so 
successfully filled. For during that period English society ex- 
isted by force of extremes ; the most startling contrasts were 
every-where the current form of life ; all opinions were con- 
victions, and all convictions were in the state either of an armed 
truce or of violent hostility. Long after the civil war had 
ended, Christianity still dwelt in camps that frowned sullenly 

386 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

on one another. By chronic necessity each religious organiza- 
tion stood in martial attitude. This was mainly owing to the 
fact that in those days men could scarcely hold decided views 
on spiritual subjects without being the fierce partisans of polit- 
ical measures. The union of Church and State was no worse 
than the union of Christianity and hate, as they were then un- 
naturally connected. If under such anomalous circumstances 
Methodism had sprung up in England, how could it have es- 
caped the fate of other Christian bodies ? 

But all this was changed in the eighteenth century. ]STo 
longer was England the England of Elizabeth, or of Cromwell, 
or of Charles II. The Revolution of 168.8, that placed William 
and Mary on the throne, put an end to divine right, and like- 
wise to hereditary right, except as determined by law ; and 
from that day English sovereigns have been such by act of Par- 
liament. If this was the triumph of old-time political instincts 
— England's historic past shaped to suit the present — it also 
brought back the clear common sense, the vivid e very-day wis- 
dom, the broad-minded sagacity, the sturdy virtues and the 
noble temper of liberality, which were native to the blood of 
Anglo-Saxons. Once more England's greatest intellects were 
reinstated in their high seats of dominion, never again to be 
denied their authority over mind. Then it was that the true 
career of Bacon, Shakspeare, Milton, Bunyan, Stillingfleet, 
Baxter, Taylor, Hooker, and Tillotson, began. Business had 
resumed its old channels and carved out new ones for the flow 
of commerce. Enterprise was all aflame with enthusiasm. If 
Watt did not appear with the steam-engine, nor Adam Smith 
with the "Wealth of Nations," till the latter half of the cent- 
ury, the industrial energy of the country was fully aroused, 
and the way was fast opening for the genius of Brindley, in 
1761 ; for Hargreaves, in 1764 ; for Crompton, in 1776 ; and for 
Arkwright, in 1768. The strong giant, wearied by years of 
bloody struggle and intestine strife, had stretched his limbs for 
an interval of repose on the renewing earth, and now he had 

Peovidence oe Gob in Methodism. 387 

arisen mightier than before, girded for conquests surpassing all 
former achievements. But although England was making such 
strides on the pathway of empire, her progress was not without 
heavy clogs that the previous century mad fastened on her 

Chief among these oppressive evils was England's moral and 
spiritual condition. If in 1724 king and people could rejoice 
in " peace with all powers abroad, at home perfect tranquillity, 
plenty, and an uninterrupted enjoyment of all civil and relig- 
ious rights," it was certain that their mutual congratulations 
could not extend beyond industrial prosperity. Nearly every 
other aspect of the times was painful to thoughtful minds, and 
the more so as the contrast was sharp between material progress 
and religious decay. Parliamentary corruption, organized into 
a system, dispensed with the palliation of impulse and the plea 
of temptation, and recommended itself to public favor no less 
by the cool audacity of its logic than by the expertness of its 
practice. It only blushed when it failed, and never repented 
except on the score of shortcomings in success. Amid the 
scenes of those days — the days of the second George — Walpole, 
who was as subtle in sagacity as he was unscrupulous in the use 
of means to carry his purposes, stands forth as a conspicuous 
figure. He was literally truthful when he declared, " I am no 
reformer ; " and if there be doubt whether he said, " Every 
man has his price," no one would have been surprised had he 
uttered it. Lord Chesterfield, in the interludes of politics, was 
busy transforming sensuality into a fine art. If these men 
were not exact types of upper English society, unquestionably 
they were exponents of some characteristic qualities which had 
then the support of fashion. Turning to religious interests, we 
often see the prelate sunk in the politician ; while the clergy, 
for the most part, were " the most remiss of their labors in pri- 
vate, and the least severe in their lives." Green quotes Mont- 
esquieu as saying of the higher circles of England : " Every 
one laughs if one talks of religion ; " and at a later period 

388 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

Hannah More writes : " "We saw but one Bible in the parish of 
Cheddar, and that was nsed to prop a flower-pot." 

To the intellect of the senses the signs of the times — espe- 
cially during the first quarter of the eighteenth century — were 
gloomy enough for despair. Beneath an inert religion, the 
philosophy of sensation was practically in league with the creed 
of materialism. The pendulum of opinion and theoretic mor- 
als played between Hobbes and Locke. If all metaphysical 
speculations were drifting toward a yawning gulf, the main idea 
of many as to the Church was, that of a safeguard against 
Popery. With this idea they were content. Beyond it they 
saw little or nothing. Pulpit speech was thin, hesitant, and 
broken, and the voice of praise lacked the deep inspirations of 
sacred song. Toward any high ideals the public mind was not 
only indifferent, but insensate. Literature had lapsed into an 
after-dinner pleasure. Richardson had not yet come to reform 
and elevate fiction, nor Hogarth to satirize folly and vice with 
deeper cuts than those which marked the engraver's plate.* 
Despite all this, tokens of better days were not wanting. The 
middle-class — then as before and since — was holding on to good 
old English traditions, and looking prayerfully and trustingly 
for a mighty change in the posture of affairs. There was a 
Jordan with its baptismal waters, though it emptied its current 
into a Dead Sea. Sheltered spots there were, past which this 
Jordan flowed ; nooks of beauty, glebe and glade not unknown 
to history and poetry, resting-places for sandaled pilgrims, 
cloisters for holy meditation, libraries in which the pen thrived 
at its blessed work, homes where the domestic spirit of the 
Anglo-Saxon retained all its hereditary virtue and tenderness, 
parishes and pulpits in which Christianity was still the religion 
of Christ and his atoning cross. 

One of these was Epworth, a name now famous *in the 
world. It was the home of the Rev. Samuel Wesley, father of 

* Hogarth finished the " Harlot's Progress " in 1731 ; Richardson published 
"Pamela" in 1741. 

Pbovidence of God tn Methodism. 389 

John "Wesley, the founder of Methodism. He was a minister 
of the Established Church, a most earnest and spiritual man, 
truthful and sincere and heroic, a piece of incarnate granite, yet 
most kind and loving, pliant in his own hands when convic- 
tions and impulses seized him, but immovable by others if his 
mind was made up ; a strong and varied thinker and writer, cult- 
ured as well as educated, and withal far more liberal and cath- 
olic in his sympathies than some critics have represented him. 
To what seem to have been hereditary qualities of nature Sam- 
uel Wesley added traits of character distinctly his own. Like 
his grandfather, Bartholomew Westley, and his father, John 
Westley, he had an impressible and energetic temperament, 
full of latent force, and capable of intense action. Like them, 
he was deeply interested in public matters and held stanchly 
to the creed in which he believed, whether political, ecclesias- 
tical, or doctrinal. All three, Bartholomew, John, and Samuel, 
were ministers of the gospel, men of university education, and 
fine position. The blood improved as it went on, for Samuel 
appears to have been the ablest man of the three, having an 
intellect of broader compass and of fuller contact with the 
movements of the age. His literary labors were remarkable. 
Smith's " History of Wesleyan Methodism " states that " be- 
sides a great number of smaller but respectable poems, he 
dedicated his 'Life of Christ,' in verse, to Queen Mary; the 
' History of the Old and JSTew Testament ' to Queen Anne ; and 
his grand and elaborate Latin dissertations on the 'Book of 
Job' to Queen Caroline. After this he 'plunged into the 
depths of Oriental philosophy and literature,' to prepare him- 
self for a new edition of the Hebrew Scriptures on an original 
plan." Besides these works he projected a scheme for the 
evangelization of the East. That he was an educated thinker, 
in the best sense of the phrase, cannot be doubted ; and that 
his moral sympathies were as acute and active as his intel- 
lectual powers were versatile and commanding is also certain. 
Of transmitted qualities in human beings our knowledge is 

390 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

scanty and imperfect. A veil hangs over the subject inwrought 
with hieroglyphics, and we have only glimpses of light and 
interpretation. Yet who can fail to detect the large thought 
and generous impulses of the father in his son John — a 
beautiful presence that abode within him, and a surviving 
power of strength and greatness after the father's death? 
The indomitable will and dauntless courage, resting upon a 
temperament competent to sustain them in any crisis of 
hazard; the spontaneous delight in activity; the missionary 
spirit of brotherly helpfulness ; the love that gathered into its 
fervent soul all the forms of humaneness, philanthropy, and 
Christian charity ; the alliance of tongue and pen in the serv- 
ice of Christ ; have not these descended from ancestral heights 
to the founder of Methodism, and gained momentum as they 
sought a lodgment in his nature ? Add to these certain char- 
acteristics of his mother, Susanna Wesley ; her skill in practi- 
cal affairs, the keen insight and the achieving hand, the happy 
union of wisdom and sentiment, the quick sense of providence 
and the instinct of trust ripened into faith, the sweetness of her 
self-denial and the touches of chastening that brought out the 
full beauty of her maternal soul — how much of all this was re- 
produced in John Wesley, and how finely it blended with the 
father, Samuel Wesley, in his temperament and nature and 
character ! 

John Wesley was born June 17, 1703, and he died March 
2, 1791. If his life began with the opening years of the 
century it continued nearly to its close. Few lives have eve] 
run so uniformly with a century, and fewer still have done so 
much to make their century memorable. Passing over his early 
years, his university education, labors in Georgia, return to En- 
gland, visit to the continent, all the experiences and struggles 
that coalesced to form his young manhood, let us view him 
in 1740, when the Methodist Society became a distinct organ- 
ization. On the surface his position and attitude seem strange, 
if not somewhat eccentric. His natural tastes and inclinations 

Providence of God in Methodism. 391 

are not in harmony with his circumstances, and yet these cir- 
cumstances press him more and more out of himself ; so that 
Wesley, with his richly-endowed mind, with his large scholar- 
ship and culture, and especially with his love of order and rev- 
erence for Church authority, finds himself being transformed 
into a new Wesley, a most unconventional person, a companion 
and associate and kinsman of humble souls, and a zealous sym- 
pathizer with the Pauline spirit that sought the evangelization 
of the world. If the philosophy of the senses could explain 
this phenomenon, it would cease to be the philosophy of the 
senses. But, assuming Providence, and the influence of the 
Holy Ghost on the heart, it all becomes perfectly explicable. 
Silent and unconscious accesses were found to his inner life ; 
he was slowly and radically changed ; he was revolutionized, 
and he was a wonder and a mystery unto himself. Well that 
it was so ; for had it been otherwise, he would never have be- 
come the foremost of modern reformers. 

Sensibility to Providence and to the Spirit's operations forms 
the basic constituent of a great Christian leader. The two are 
always one in every gifted man called to such a work. Nature — 
God in nature — supplies the instinctive sensitiveness to unsen- 
suous impressions ; and this native sensitiveness to imagination 
and ideal impulses was gradually matured in Wesley until it 
became a wise and well-poised sensibility. Yet the reactions 
would often set in. To preach in the open air cost him a 
severe conflict with himself. His friend Hervey resisted the 
glaring innovation. He lost other dear friends — Whitefield, 
Gambold, and Stonehouse — on other issues, and his brother 
Charles was shaken as to this policy. Moreover, he was sorely 
perplexed as to the responsibility involved in building chapels, 
nor could he see where he might find helpers in the manage- 
ment of the Societies. But never were the words in M. An 
gelo's sonnet more fully verified : — 

' ' Just as the marble wastes, 

The statue -grows: " 

392 The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 

for while he was severely tried in giving up his High -Church 
principles, in abandoning the most charming associations of 
his young manhood, in resigning his favorite pursuits, and in 
separating from cherished companions, he was undergoing the 
best possible discipline for the attainment of that most marked 
individuality which shone so resplendently in his subsequent 
career. Personality, in its free and original type, is the rarest 
of human developments. Not one man in ten thousand ever 
reaches the consciousness of his real life. In itself it is a most 
occult thing, and our modes of life are such that it is constantly 
retreating to those hidden vaults which chamber the future soul 
and conceal it from discernment. But Wesley was taught him- 
self, made to see and feel himself, made to realize himself, made 
to use himself ; and thus he was qualified, by the co-operations 
of Providence and the Holy Spirit, for the wonderful service 
that he rendered to the world, when the world needed, more than 
any other providential gift, a man trained just as he was trained. 
The occasion soon presented itself for Wesley to learn an- 
other lesson under the tuition of Providence. Like all reform- 
ers, he drew many of his greatest ideas from the past, his con- 
structive skill displaying itself in the shape he gave those ideas 
in adapting them to his object. For instance, the conception 
of societies as adjuncts to the Churches in the work of evangeli- 
zation dates much farther back than Wesley's times. The 
" Society for the Reformation of Manners " was first estab- 
lished about the year 1677.* According to Bishop Burnet, such 

* Wesley's Societies, however, differed widely from the " Society for the Refor- 
mation of Manners," which was begun in the reign of King William, was irregularly 
continued through the reign- of Queen Anne, was defunct from 1*730 to 1*757, and 
was revived in 1757 by the Methodist movement. They equally differed from the 
" Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge," founded in 1699, and from the "So- 
ciety for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts," founded in 1701. The 
Methodist Societies, though not in name, were, in many- regards, from the first 
truly a Christian Church. When Wesley adopted lay preaching and lay ordination, 
his Societies became in fact the Church of his own ideal. Wesley did not so 
intend, nor did he ever admit that this was so. But Lord Mansfield was right 
when he declared that " ordination is separation," and in this opinion Charles 
Wesley concurred. — Editor. 

Providence of God in Methodism. 393 

societies had been active in good works, and had enlisted men 
like Dr. Beveridge and Dr. Horneck, in their support. Tyer- 
man states, that " the religious societies were altogether com- 
posed of members of the Church of England ; the Reformation 
Society was composed of members of the Church of England, 
and of other Churches as well." 

In 1698 Samuel Wesley preached an able and most pungent 
sermon before the " Society for the Reformation of Manners," 
wherein many thoughts like these occur : " The sword of justice 
no longer lies rusting and idle, but is drawn and furbished for 
the battle, and glitters against the enemies of God and of our 
country. Let us often read the lives of martyrs. 

Forbid none from casting out devils, because he follows not 
with you." If, now, these societies had set before John Wesley 
examples of wide and varied usefulness, it was eminently wise 
in him to adopt a principle of action that had been fully 
tested. The obligation was the more stringent because of the 
fact that the clergy had set themselves against the religious 
movement he was conducting. There was no hope that the 
English Church would take care of his converts. His course, 
therefore, was in the natural order of events ; it was simply 
inevitable ; and he had either to abandon his work or give it a 
secure organization. And now arose one of the most embar- 
rassing questions of his career. It was the question of lay 
preaching. Once more the personal conflict began ; the old 
prejudices returned ; and the Wesley of Oxford sternly con- 
fronted the Wesley of the highways and the open fields. How 
could he tolerate lay preaching? Yet how could he go on 
without it ? This time, as often before, it was no choice of 
his, but the will of Providence that over-ruled him and the past 
in him. Certain it was that the wine had again to be drawn 
off from the lees, and, in this critical moment, a delicate but 
well-nerved hand was ready to aid in the task. 

Nothing could have been more fortunate than that the issue 
came up in the case of Thomas Maxfield. Maxfield was one 

394 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

of the early fruits of Wesley's ministry in Bristol, and now lie 
labored in London, meeting the society, praying, advising, ex- 
horting, enjoying God's blessing, and having signal favor with 
the people. Maxfield began to preach. "Wesley heard of 
it and hurried to London, intent on stopping such a disorderly 
proceeding. " John," said his mother, " he is as surely called 
of God to preach as you are." The same wise guide said to 
him, " Examine what have been the fruits of his preaching, and 
hear him also yourself," and he accepted the advice, yielded 
his prejudices, and took another step from the shades of the 
past into the light of the future. At this point his career 
weaves itself again into his father's history, since nearly fifty 
years before Samuel Wesley had urged the same measure on 
the attention of the English Church. Providence honors 
blood. A bud in an ancestor opens into a flower in his de- 
scendant and soon swells into fruit. In this case the good 
results were not only immense but singularly various. Almost 
the entire economy of Methodism grew out of this decisive ac- 
tion in using lay preachers. Classes and leaders, contributions 
of money, the conference, and the itinerancy, rapidly followed. 
So that we may safely affirm that the suggestive force which 
supplied the ideas embodied in the system of Methodism sprang 
from Thomas Maxfield's preaching. 

Let us pause a moment and examine Methodism. It was 
the child of providence, and never was offspring more like its 
parentage. The form,, the step, the hand, the eye, the voice, 
all reduced to earthly conditions and adapted to human rela- 
tions, show the original source of its life. But it may be 
profitable to analyze this idea of providence, and see the el- 
ements which make its constituents : for if revelation has its 
evidences, its proofs internal and external, its methods of satis- 
fying reason and preparing the way for the true faith of the 
heart, so has providence in the affairs of men. Any thing is 
sheer mysticism — unworthy of credence — that cannot be sub- 
stantiated in some shape to the open and candid minds of men- 

Providence of God in Methodism. 395 

First of all, then, the battle of the Reformation had been 
fought out in England. After every sign of conflict on this 
issue had disappeared upon the Continent, the struggle was 
fiercely protracted in England. Puritanism, as a religious, 
ecclesiastical, and political influence, had run through all its 
stages. One platform of principles had been demolished for 
the erection of another. One phase had succeeded another, till 
its fertility of aspects had been exhausted. A Puritan of Eliza- 
beth's age had little in common with Cromwell, and a Puritan 
under Charles II. would have been a stranger and a foreigner to 
a Puritan of 1688. High-Church and Low-Church parties 
had gone through vicissitudes and changes equally remarkable. 
Calvinism and Arminianism had been finally detached from 
party politics ; and Pome, Geneva, and Holland were no 
longer inflammatory watch-words. The evil in these warring 
systems, excited to intensity by the state of the country, had 
expired, or, if not dead, had sunk into inertness. The good 
elements, so fatally held in abeyance, had survived and taken a 
prominent form in English thought and life. But we think 
it obvious that this very condition of things demanded some 
new religious organization. If not, how were the beneficent 
results of this terrible ordeal to be preserved? Yarious as 
these results were, they nevertheless had common qualities ; 
but how were these to be aggregated and condensed in one 
massive force so as to reach England % What was needed was, 
an institution that might gather up the fruits of a century's 
growth and give them a divine perpetuity. We believe that 
Methodism was providentially ordained to be just such an 
institution, and, as a warrant for this belief, we appeal to its 
principles, its sentiments, its Catholic spirit, its deep sense of 
human brotherhood, its philanthropic heart, and, most of all 
because higher than all, we appeal to its reverence for God's 
sovereignty, its homage to law, and its supreme trust in 
the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the means of recon- 
ciling God to man and man to God. 

396 The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 

Look at Methodism, and you find all the best and noblest 
characteristics of Puritanism, separated from bigotry and 
cruelty, organized in its economy, and embodied in its living 
character. Look at it again, and you see certain qualities that 
Puritanism never had — such as the milder virtues of the 
gospel, considerateness for the weakness of men, piety and 
compassion, tenderness for the erring, and the sympathies that 
bind men together. Its sensibility to truth has not been 
at the expense of its sensibility to love. With it charity 
is the " greatest " only because charity is the consummation in 
which faith and hope realize their completeness of scope and 
fullness of power. Look, furthermore, at its effects on the 
middle and lower classes of English society, its influence 
in bringing them together, its force of assimilation, by means 
of which one of the most dangerous consequences of a revolu- 
tionary century, namely, the estrangement of classes, was great- 
ly meliorated. Did Methodism retain for many years its con- 
nection with the Church of England ? That gave it an oppor- 
tunity to act on the religious condition of the Establishment. 
Did "Whitefield separate from Wesley ? Because of this, 
Methodism permeated the Dissenting Churches. If, politic- 
ally, the nation had advanced to high and solid ground — if the 
House of Commons had gained immense strength by reducing 
the power of the Crown — if state ministers had become minis- 
ters of the people — it seems indisputable that Methodism, as a 
complementary movement, did precisely for moral and spiritual 
interests what the House of Commons had achieved for polit- 
ical interests. It aroused the people. It made the people con- 
scious of themselves and their inherent capacity for growth. 
It elevated and ennobled the people. Yiewed in this light, 
the seventeenth century fashioned the gigantic mold in which 
Methodism was cast. 

Every student of ancient history knows how the Pome of 
Pompey and the Senate, and the Pome of Julius Caesar and 
the Democracy, were in long and deadly conflict. And he 

Pkovidexce of God in Methodism. 397 

knows, too, that a very different Rome, the Rome of Augustus 
Ceesar, emerged from the bloody struggle, and that it was the 
Rome of the Empire through which Christianity trod her 
pathway of triumph. So, too, the England of the Puritan and 
the England of the Cavalier fought and bled. So, too, they 
passed away in their relative attitudes and aspects. Modern 
England is neither the one nor the other, but the product of 
interaction and compromise. And it was just this condition 
of things that called for such a system as Methodism, and 
Providence answered the call. But this is not a complete 
statement of the facts. Suppose that we look forward instead 
of backward, and may we not ask if England could have with- 
stood, as she did, the shock of the French Revolution, had not 
Methodism wrought its soul into the masses of her population ? 
Yet another view offers itself. Here, on this western continent, 
England had her colonies. All sorts of causes — poverty, trouble, 
persecution, enterprise, philanthropy, religion — had operated 
to produce the tide that swept westward. Endicott, Winthrop, 
Penn, Oglethorpe, were very unlike as individuals ; but they 
were all Englishmen. First the Atlantic slope, next the Mis- 
sissippi Valley, then the Pacific coast, the Northern Lakes and 
the Southern Gulf — the whole was contained in Plymouth Rock 
and Jamestown. Standing face to face with the grand forms 
of nature, the contours and configurations of scenery every- 
where magnificent, men not only came to a new world, but to 
a world that made them new. Such elastic energy, such reso- 
lute will, such diversified heroism, such success in winning 
fields and forests to the domains of civilization, have no par- 
allel in the historic fortunes of our race. And was there no 
providence in the origin of Methodism at a time when it could 
be transplanted to a most genial soil, take root, grow up with 
the States, expand with the population, and spread its branches 
till the spray of two oceans fell upon their foliage % If "Wes- 
leyan Methodism was so well adapted to modern England, 
what shall be said of the supreme fitness of American Method- 

398 The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 

ism to follow the pioneer, to penetrate the wilderness, to oc- 
cupy the territory by pre-emptive right of missionary ardor, 
and stand with hands and heart open to embrace the coming 
multitude ? 

Society advances under providential law. Modern society is 
.characterized by the number and diversity of these laws, their 
action and interaction. Problems once simple are now com- 
plex. The chief difficulty in all systems and organizations is, 
to meet the multiplicity of interests which have to be consulted. 
Often these are at variance, or, if not in downright antagonism, 
they are hard to unite. The secret of power in any project 
seeking to act on a broad scale lies in its adaptability. To be 
adaptive, it must be plastic. To be wisely plastic, it must have 
firmness of texture no less than facility of accommodation. It 
must be, in all religious matters, conscientious before it con- 
siders expediency. By the conditions of success it must be- 
come all things to all men, which can only be when it is one 
thing toward God. ISTow, assuredly, Methodism has historically 
vindicated its claim as an institution of providence on the score 
of adaptation to circumstances most unlike. On the one hand, 
we have seen it exhibit its majestic strength in an old country. 
On the other hand, we have seen it develop the same energy, 
or even greater, in a new country. As an impulse, it was felt 
in the air that all men breathe ; as a sentiment, it attracted Cal- 
vinists ; as a principle, it drew thousands to its standard of 
faith. Speaking of the philanthropic power awakened in En- 
gland, and " now spreading through the habitable globe," Sir 
James Stephen says, ' : It was at this period that the Alma 
Mater of Laud and Sacheverell was nourishing in her bosom a 
little band of pupils destined to accomplish a momentous revo- 
lution in the JSTational Church ; and of this little band John 
Wesley was the acknowledged leader." 

Green states, in his " Short History of the English People," 
that Wesley's movement " changed in a few years the whole 
temper of English society." It is now generally admitted 

Peovidence of God et Methodism. 399 

that all modern efforts for prison reform, improvements in 
penal codes, popular education, cheap literature, Sunday- 
schools, and missionary enterprise, are largely due to Wesley's 
influence. Whatever the shape assumed by these benevolent 
labors, the touch of one creative hand was felt alike in them 
all. There were " diversities of operations," but " the same 
God which worketh all in all." For, whether the fire is struck 
from the flinty rock, or drawn from the overhanging cloud, or 
released from the coal-beds in the deep earth, it is fire from 
the sun. 

It is clear, then, that Wesley was in living contact with the 
world at very many points. This distinguished him from all 
other conspicuous reformers. He had a more varied range than 
Luther. He had far more balance than Savonarola. He had 
not the exclusiveness of Knox. And he had a much truer and 
prof ounder insight than Loyola. Isaac Taylor says : " JSTot one 
of the founders of Methodism was gifted with the philosophic 
faculty, the abstractive and analytic power." And further : 
" "Wesley reasoned more than he thought. He was almost 

intuitively master of arts. He had the irresistible force, or, 

one might say, the galvanic instantaneousness of the intuitions." 
Such fine distinctions, even if accurate, are of no avail in practi- 
cal matters. It was the mind of Wesley, not the mere intellect, 
that gave him such sway over men. That he had wonderful 
capacity as well as ability cannot be questioned. A most com- 
pact brain he possessed, sensitive and extremely active, able to 
reach his constructing hand on short notice. At the same time 
Wesley's mind was comprehensive — his reflective and percep- 
tive powers were in close alliance. Whatever he acquired was 
thoroughly assimilated and became a part of his nature, nor did 
he give any thoughts to others without the stamp of his own 
individuality. The peculiar emotions that blend with the in- 
tellect and impart the highest vitality to its functions, were 
serving forces that never failed him. Along with these, he 
had the best educated body that we know of — nerves and mus- 

400 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

cles that were trained to military obedience. Too much blood 
seldom overstocked his head. He came as near converting his 
physical frame into an intelligent automaton as any man an- 
cient or modern, and to this much of his usefulness was due. 
Free from sudden reactions — still more free from tyrannic 
moods — he was generally calm, self-poised, and full of healthy 
repose. His resources constantly grew, but they never out- 
grew his expertness in their management. Any instrument or 
agent that came within his grasj) borrowed something from 
his disciplined skill. The seed-producing force in his nature 
was amazing. Like all men whose genius is rooted in depth 
of character, he had a strong will, and he enjoyed using it. 
But he was not locked up in himself. Often, in many ways, 
he crucified self — the self of the intellect as well as the self of 
the heart. He had the gift, one of the rarest among men, of 
hearing the voice of Providence in the voices of human soids. 
The suggestions of the humblest were never despised. Yet his 
final test of truth was the divine element which he detected in 
it, so that his mind was like a great dome, open at the top for 
light to stream down fresh from the firmament. 

Looking at Methodism in its spiritual features, we must not 
forget to notice the special emphasis it laid on personal religion 
as the religion of consciousness. This has always been its most 
salient peculiarity. The sense of acceptance with God by the 
witness of the Holy Spirit has given Methodism a power not 
possible from any other source. Without dwelling on its ad- 
vantages to the individual believer, we can scarcely estimate 
its value as a specific mode of thinking and feeling in bringing 
a body of Christians into the simplest but strongest unity. By 
unity we mean a very different thing from union. More than 
any thing else, this doctrine, when realized in experience, tends 
to produce a common sensibility which is sure to expand 
into a common sympathy. Imagine that Methodism had 
established its social institutions with only a secondary ref- 
erence to this great truth : much of its strength would have 

Pkovidence of God est Methodism. 401 

been unknown, for it is this rather than other distinctive quali- 
ties which has created its family heart. Coincident with this 
fact, and yet differenced by its connections, we may add, that 
just such a religious consciousness as Methodism emphasizes is 
one of the most important present means of resisting the 
skepticism and materialism of the age. Mind is now threatened 
by the thralldom of the body. The science of the senses is the 
science of investigation, of analysis, and synthesis ; of blow- 
pipes and microscopes : and it is natural enough that when 
thinkers reject the testimony of consciousness, laugh at its 
dictates and scorn its intuitions, doubt and dismay should 
spread their appalling shadows over the entire realm of sacred 
things. No other result is possible. If Baal be reinstated as 
the sun god, our only worship will be the cry of despair. So 
it was on old Carmel, and so it must be in new America. Ap- 
proach man from the material side of the universe, and he is 
insignificant enough. Analogy, with its mighty logic and still 
mightier fascination, is turned into his worst enemy. Fellow- 
ship with brutes, or kinship rather, is soon reached. But 
change the method of approach, and all else is instantly 
changed. Draw near to the soul from the spiritual side of the 
universe, speak to its consciousness, and Christianity is the 
answering grandeur. And, in this view, Methodism may be 
regarded as occupying in the order of Providence a specialized 
sphere of activity. The long strife between faith and disbelief 
seems narrowing down to an issue between consciousness and 
sense. In this event, Methodism is worth philosophic study 
in a new light. It may turn out that the prominence it has 
given to the religious consciousness may be found of unex- 
pected avail in the progress of this warfare. If so, will it not 
be remarkable that a system which has accomplished such vast 
good in the past should be even more a prospective providence, 
and that the broad wake of light which it has left behind it for 
well nigh one hundred and fifty years, should be far outshone 
by the splendor of the future ? 

402 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

The sympathetic and diffusive element in Methodism, to which 
we have called attention, was largely due to the Pauline mode 
of preaching that Wesley and his helpers adopted. The same 
thing is true of the Methodist ministry as a body. Taken as a 
whole, they choose more of their texts from St. Paul's writings 
than ministers of other Churches. Their theology is thorough- 
ly Pauline. Their spirit is St. Paul's spirit. Their buoyancy, 
freedom, and hopefulness, ally them with the Apostle to the 
Gentiles, and they have much of his chastened independence 
and steady heroism. But it must not be forgotten that the 
hymns of the Wesleys, John and Charles, had very much to do 
with this wonderful extension of Christ's kingdom. Luther 
knew the power of hymns. So did Cromwell. But it re- 
mained for the Wesleys to develop their full excellence and 
give it the widest range of influence. Methodism has a 
" hymn book " of its own, a complete hymn book, a library of 
song, a rich and beautiful anthology from the garden of the 
Lord. If thrown on its own resources for the language of 
praise, Methodism could chant every strain that the human 
soul can breathe forth to Heaven. These hymns are not lyric 
meditations, but fresh and genuine outbursts from hearts over- 
flowing with emotion, the emotion rising evermore into affection. 
Not a touch of vitiating sentimentality is in one of them, and 
they are as free from the effeminate fancy and tainted sensu- 
ousness of recent spiritual songs, as they are from the formal 
starchness of the older hymns. All forms of doctrine, experi- 
ence, and holy living, they embody in words appropriate, varied, 
and vivid. Nor is their genius ever put forth at the expense 
of piety. Charming as is their beauty, it never exists for 
its own sake, but as a vestment woven with reverential art to 
clothe a far higher substance. How many voices they have, 
even as the voices of Pentecost ! Whatsoever in penitence is 
subduing to pride and self -trust ; whatsoever in the first gush 
of pardon, and peace, and joy seeks expression in rapture ; 
whatsoever gathers upon our lonely hours, and upon the 

Providence of God in Methodism. 403 

hours of trial and sorrow and bereavement ; whatsoever wails 
in the miserere of life, or exults in its jubilate ; these are 
all here, to lift the soul to the thfone and its Christ. The little 
children swell out hosannas in the sweetness of these hymns, 
and manhood and womanhood pour forth halleluias in their 
rhythmic gladness. If the royal psalmist perfected Judaism in 
the psalms, the "Wesleys, and especially Charles, gave the final 
touch of strength and grace to Methodism by means of these 
hymns. Had Methodism done nothing else but produce these 
articulations of every thought and feeling in Christian life, who 
could measure the indebtedness of the Church to its genius and 
its consecration to such a task ? Though we cannot yet 
say, " Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their 
words to the end of the world," we cannot doubt that the day 
is not far distant when it will be said, " There is no speech 
nor language where their voice is not heard." 


THE religious apathy or indifferentism which all parties 
are agreed settled on the English Church and people near 
the middle of the eighteenth century, bade fair to end in gen- 
eral, if not universal, unbelief. The unchristian spirit in which 
the Deistical, Trinitarian, and Bangorian controversies were 
conducted, even by the orthodox defenders of the Christian 
religion ; the Church abuses — pluralities and non-residence ; the 
prostitution of Church patronage to State purposes ; the sub- 
serviency of the clergy to king and court, their absorbing devo- 
tion to politics, their guilty share in the political corruptions 
of the times, their political sermons, their cold essays on mo- 
rality, their disregard of pastoral duties, their antipathy to all 
that is emotional in religion, and their exclusive reliance on 
arguments from reason and nature — on the external evidences 
of revelation to the utter neglect, if not rejection, of that inter- 
nal evidence which the Holy Spirit witnesses to the human 
soul whenever Christ crucified is faithfully preached ; — these 
things, and others like them, to say nothing of the worldli- 
ness and irreligious lives of the great majority of the clergy, 
had well-nigh sapped the foundations of Christian faith and 
hope, and delivered over the English people to deism, if 
not the dethronement of God from the government of the 

In this emergency, the man who, under God, more than any 
other, saved the English Church and people from spiritual 
paralysis, if not from spiritual death, was John Wesley. 
Had it not been for the timely Methodist reactionary move- 

Wesley and the Evidence "Writers. 405 

ment, the National Church and the Nonconformist Churches 
of England were in danger of being borne, by the deistical 
and free-thinking writers of the century, into the more gloomy 
and perilous regions of atheism. It was well that Methodism 
arose and won many of its victories before the more pro- 
nounced German skepticism and French atheism came to the 
aid of those who were seeking to overthrow the defenses of 
Christian faith. Happily for Christianity in England, those 
continental antichristian forces came too late to effect the con- 
quests they intended. For John Wesley had already greatly 
revived the English Church, and rescued it from its gravest 
perils. If this had not been, dark would have been the day 
for the Christian religion in England, if English deists and 
English free-thinkers, triumphant over evangelical Christian 
thought, had joined their victorious battalions to the proudly 
defiant and conquering legions of German skeptics and French 

But, while this is so, we do not say that enlargement and 
deliverance would not have come in some other way ; but we 
do say, that John Wesley was the Heaven-delegated instrument 
by which evangelical Christianity was preserved to England. 
No doubt if Wesley had not been divinely sent, or if, having 
been divinely sent, he had been faithless to his high mission, 
the great Head of the Church would have raised up some other 
to do the work. But, as Moses was the Heaven-appointed 
deliverer of the Hebrews from their bondage in Goshen, so 
Wesley was the special instrument chosen of Heaven to deliver 
the English Church and people in the eighteenth century. 
Nor do we mean to say that Wesley, single-handed and alone, 
wrought out the great revival. But we do mean to say, with 
Mr. Lecky, that " beyond all other men it was John Wesley to 
whom this work was due ; " with Mr. Overton, John Wesley 
" stands pre-eminent among the worthies who originated and 
conducted the revival of practical religion which took place in 
the last century ; " with Mr. Gladstone, Wesley gave " the 

406 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

main impulse out of which sprang the evangelical move- 
ment ; " with Dean Stanley, "Wesley " was the chief reviver of 
religions fervor in all Protestant Churches, both of the old 
and the new world ; " with Isaac Taylor, " the Methodist move- 
ment is the starting point of our modern religious history," 
and " the field preaching of "Wesley and Whitefield is the event 
whence the religious epoch, now current, must date its com- 
mencement ; "' with Dr. Stoughton, " the rise and progress of 
Methodism may be regarded as the most important ecclesiastical 
fact of modern times, and that Methodism, in all its branches, 
is a fact in the history of England which develops into 
large and still larger dimensions as time rolls on ; " with Mr. 
Abbey, "the Methodist revival marked a decided turn, not 
only in popular feeling on religious topics and in the language 
of the pulpit, but also in theological and philosophical thought 
in general ; " that while " "William Law in his own way and 
among a select but somewhat limited body of readers, Wesley 
in a more practical and far more popular manner, gave 

a death-blow to the then existing forms of Deism ; " that Meth- 
odism " stirred the sluggish spiritual nature to its depths ; it 
awoke the sense of sin and an eager longing to be delivered 
from it ; " and that " to the age and Church in general its 
quickening action was scarcely less important ;" with Robert 
Southey, Wesley is "the most influential mind of the last 
century, the man who will have produced the greatest effects 
centuries, or perhaps millenniums, hence, if the present race of 
men should continue so long ; " and with Mr. Curteis, Wesley 
(unless we except Mr. Fletcher) "was the. purest, noblest, most 
saintly clergyman of the eighteenth century, whose whole life 
was passed in the sincere and loyal effort to do good." 

In ascribing so much to "Wesley's influence on the religious 
thought of the age, we intend no disparagement of the illus- 
trious men who, in the deistical and trinitarian controversies, 
defended against deists and Socinians, the orthodox Articles of 
the English Church. "We may, indeed, admit almost all that 

Wesley and the Evidence Writers. 407 

Mr. Overton, vicar of Legbourne, claims for them in The En- 
glish Church in the Eighteenth Century, the recent and very 
able work of Mr. Abbey and himself. In vol. ii., chap, ii., 
Mr. Overton thus introduces the Methodist movement : — 

The middle part of the eighteenth century presents a somewhat curi- 
ous spectacle to the student of Church history. From one point of view 
the Church of England seemed to be signally successful ; from another, 
signally unsuccessful. Intellectually her work was a great triumph, 
morally and spiritually it was a great failure. She passed not only un- 
scathed, but with greatly increased strength, through a serious crisis. 
She crushed most effectually an attack which, if not really very formida- 
ble or very systematic, was at any rate very noisy and very violent ; and 
her success was at least as much due to the strength of her friends as to 
the'Tveakness of her foes. So completely did she beat her assailants out 
of the field that for some time they were obliged to make their assaults 
under a masked battery in order to obtain a popular hearing at all. It 
should never be forgotten that the period in which the Church sank to 
her nadir in one sense was also the period in which she almost reached 
her zenith in another sense. Seldom has the history of any Church been 
adorned at one and the same time with greater names than those of But- 
ler, and Waterland, and Berkeley, and Sherlock the younger, and War- 
burton, and Conybeare, and other intellectual giants who flourished in 
the reigns of the first two Georges. They cleared the way for that re- 
vival which is the subject of these pages. It was in consequence of the 
successful results of their efforts that the ground was opened to the 
heart-stirring preachers and disinterested workers who gave practical 
effect to the truths which have been so ably vindicated. It was unfor- 
tunate that there should ever have been any antagonism between men 
who were really workers in the same great cause. Neither could have 
done the other's part of the work. Warburton could have no more 
moved the hearts of living masses to their inmost depths, as White- 
field did, than Whitefield conlcl have written the 'Divine Legation. 1 
Butler could no more have carried on the great crusade against sin 
and Satan which Wesley did, than Wesley could have written the 
'Analogy.' But without such work as Wesley and Whitefield did, But- 
ler's and Warburton's would have been comparatively inefficacious, 
and without such work as Butler and Warburton did, Wesley's and 
Whitefield's work would have been, humanly tpeaMng, [italics ours,] 


408 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

The qualifying words in italics make it possible for us to 
agree, in the main, with Mr. Overton. " Humanly speak- 
ing," it was " impossible ; " divinely speaking, it was not. 
"Wesley's and Whitefield's work was pre-eminently spiritual- 
the work of the great Church writers was intellectual ; or- 
thodox, perhaps, it was, but still intellectual. The work of 
"Wesley and Whitefield was a revival of spiritual Christianity ; 
it was divine, in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. It 
stirred the inmost depths of the human soul ; it changed men's 
hearts : it reformed their lives : it restored them to the imase 
of Him who created them in knowledge, in righteousness, and 
in true holiness. The work of the others, though intellectually 
" a great triumph," was morally and spiritually " a great fail- 
ure." It was " icily regular," but " splendidly null." It left 
the English Church and people in a worse spiritual condition 
than before the heated and bitter controversies began. " Intel- 
lectually " the argument may have been with them ; but " mor- 
ally and spiritually " it was with their opponents. The latter 
result must ever be the case when the Christian pulpit and 
press conduct religious controversy as the Christian pulpit and 
press conducted the deistical and trinitarian controversies in 
the eighteenth century. 

While, then, it may be true that " without such work as But- 
ler and Warburton did, Wesley's and Whitefield's work would 
have been, humanly speaking, impossible," it may be ques- 
tioned whether, after all, the work of the latter was not more 
hindered than advanced by the work of the former. Whatever 
assistance Warburton previously may have given to Wesley, it 
is certain that, if Wesley's work was advanced by Warburton's 
letters to Des Maizeaux and Dr. Birch, in 1738, and by his 
fierce onslaught on Wesley, in 1763, it was because a gracious 
providence overruled for good the scurrilous assaults of Will- 
iam, Lord Bishop of Gloucester. But, of course, it is not about 
these later exploits of Warburton Mr. Overton is writing. 
And yet one may, perhaps, be pardoned for mentioning them, 

Wesley and the Evidence Weitebs. 409 

inasmuch as they were suggested by the thought that Wes- 
ley's work without Warburton was impossible. Without 
controversy, Warburton's "Divine Legation" and Butler's 
" Analogy " were very great works, especially Butler's. But 
did they revive the nation ? If they so silenced assaults on the 
Christian religion that its enemies had to carry on the conflict 
" under a masked battery," was the Church made the purer by 
the victories of her champions ? Did any transforming, regen- 
erating power attend their utterances ? The unanimous testi- 
mony of contemporary authority is, that the age grew worse 
and worse ; that if intellectually the work of these great theo- 
logians was a signal triumph, morally and spiritually it was a 
signal failure. Surely, from every stand-point it may be said, 
the more lifeless the Church the more difficult the work of re- 
vival ; the more irreligious and practically ungodly the nation, 
the more difficult the work of reform. And of all difficult 
tasks, humanly or divinely speaking, the hardest of all is to 
revive a Church which has settled on the lees of a cold and 
icy indifferentism, however rational its faith or orthodox its 
formularies. But, however this may be, no one will ques- 
tion what Mr. Overton has added : " The truths of Christian- 
ity required not only to be defended, but to be applied to the 
heart and the life ; and this was the special work of what 
has been called, for want of a better term, 'the evangelical 
school.' " 

But,' more than this, it may also be questioned whether more 
credit has not been given to the evidence writers than they 
deserve. We have already alluded to their exclusive reliance 
on arguments from reason and nature, and to their neglect 
of the internal evidences of Christianity — to their contempt 
for the emotional or whatever savors of enthusiasm. And 
we have before seen that Mr. Abbey claims that it was Law 
and Wesley— not Butler and Warburton — who gave the 
death-blow to the eighteenth century forms of deism. What 
he says is so much to the point that we give it more at 

410 The "Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

length. "We quote from vol. i, chap, ix, "Enthusiasm," in 
his and Mr. Overton's "English Church in the Eighteenth 
Century." " About the time ' "When "Wesley's power Gathered 
new strength from hour to hour,' theological opinion wa3 
in much the same state in England as that described by 
Goethe as existing in Germany when he left Leipsic in 1768 ; 
it was to a great extent fluctuating between an historical and 
traditionary Christianity on the one hand and pure Deism on 
the other. William Law in his own way and among a select 
but somewhat limited number of readers, "Wesley in a more 
practical and far more popular manner, did very much to re- 
store to English Christianity the element that was so greatly 
wanting — the appeal to a faculty [the italics are ours] with 
which the soul is gifted to recognize the inherent excellence, the 
beauty, truth, and divinity of a divine object once clearly set 
before it. "Whatever may have been the respective deficiencies 
in the systems and teaching of these two men, they achieved at 
least this great result ; nor is it too much to say [the italics are 
ours] that it gave a death-blow to the then existing forms of 
Deism." If Mr. Abbey is right, is it too much to say that Law 
and "Wesley accomplished more than the evidence writers, even 
in their own domain, were able to accomplish % Nay, more ; is 
it too much to say that Law and "Wesley did what the others 
utterly failed to do ? The great religious controversies of the 
age were " solely of an intellectual character ; " and, instead of 
settling men's minds and resolving their doubts, " dissemi- 
nated," says the skeptical author of the " History of Civilization 
in England," " doubts among nearly all classes." Their only 
practical effect was to divorce theology from the department of 
ethics, and, by sowing more broadcast the seeds of uncertainty, 
weaken the restraints of morality, and give greater riot to 
licentiousness. And since, as John "Wesley truthfully wrote, 
"Deists and evidence writers alike were strangers to those 
truths which are ' spiritually discerned,' " is there any wonder 
that the Church which, in the middle of the eighteenth cent- 

Wesley and the Evidence Writers. 411 

ury, intellectually "almost reached her zenith," morally and 
spiritually " sank to her nadir ? " 

But the great theologians of the eighteenth century were not 
the only persons who attempted to reform the nation and failed. 
Equally futile were the efforts of the essayists, painters, philos- 
ophers, statesmen, and all others who attempted it till Wesley 
came. Addison and Steele in the " Tattler " and the " Specta- 
tor," Dr. Johnson in " London " and " Vanity Fair," and Rich- 
ardson in " Pamela " Andrews, with their pens ; and Hogarth, 
with his brush, in the " Industrious and Idle Apprentices," and 
in the "Harlot's Progress," boldly satirized vice, and turned 
against it the tide of wit which had been used by the comic dra- 
matists of the Restoration, and their successors in scurrility, to 
ridicule all that is pure and virtuous in man. The elder William 
Pitt, in the House of Commons, in the House of Lords, and in 
the ministry, " with that sense of honor which makes ambition 
virtue," by an example of pure morals, incorruptible integrity, 
and transparent disinterestedness, exalted the standard of polit- 
ical honor, and gave such a rebuke to public venality that rarely 
afterward did corruption in high places lift up its head. The 
blameless lives of King George III. and Queen Charlotte ex- 
erted in fashionable and aristocratic circles some influence for 
good, and tended to infuse a healthier tone of morality and 
religion. But all these influences were unavailing to change 
the character of the nation, or to revive a sleeping Church. 
Their effects were only partial, circumscribed, momentary. 
The renewing, transforming Spirit was needed. As well might 
the leopard attempt to change his spots or the Ethiopian his 
skin, as a nation by such influences alone to seek reform. 
Neither did the religious writers who, till Wesley came, exer- 
cised, as we have seen, the greatest influence on the times — 
(and illustrious names they were) Butler and Sherlock and 
Hoadley and Warburton and Horsley and Waterland and 
Berkeley and Leslie and Leland and Doddridge and Watts — 
do much to change for the better the English Church and peo- 

412 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

pie. Essayists and poets and painters, however well meaning 
their efforts, tried it in vain. " Taste and culture," says Julia 
"Wedgwood, " attempted to regenerate society, and failed." 
Pitt and Burke and George III., and the ablest divines of 
the Establishment and Dissent, were equally powerless. In 
spite of all their efforts, the age, as depicted by Mr. Pattison, 
was " one of decay of religion, licentiousness of morals, public 
corruption, and profaneness of language — an age destitute of 
depth and earnestness, of light without love, whose very merits 
were of the earth, earthy." "What could cleanse this Augean 
accumulated mass of corruption? What voice could speak to 
these dry bones and command the return of sinews and skin 
and lif e ? No fountain but the fountain opened to the house 
of David for sin and for uncleanness could do the cleansing ; no 
voice but the voice of some Heaven-inspired Ezekiel could 
prophesy and say, " Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones : 
Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall 
live ; " no breath, no spirit, but the Breath and Spirit of the 
Almighty could raise up from bleached bones " an exceeding 
great army." What was needed was the transforming, regen- 
erating, sanctifying Spirit, and a man called of God, as was 
Aaron, with lips touched with hallowed fire, as were Isaiah's, 
and with the word of God as a burning fire shut up in his 
bones, as in Jeremiah's. The boy rescued from the burning 
rectory at Epworth ; the young Fellow of Lincoln, and presi- 
dent of the " Holy Club " at Oxford ; the companion of the 
Moravians in the storm-tossed ship on the Atlantic; the mis- 
sionary to the Indians of Georgia; the persecuted rector of 
Christ Church Parish in Savannah ; the man who felt his 
heart " strangely warmed " that night in Aldersgate-street 
while listening to the reading of the preface to Martin Luther's 
commentary on the epistle to the Romans, was divinely called, 
commissioned, qualified, and sent to reform the Church of 
England, and do what the essayists and poets and painters 
and statesmen, and the learned doctors of Dissent, and the 

Wesley and the Evidence Writers. 413 

Church's archbishops and bishops, and the nation's king and 
queen, were utterly unable to accomplish. 

All that we have in this paper claimed for Mr. "Wesley is now 
almost universally allowed. The good, also, which he at the 
same time did among the poor and the lower middle classes, is 
admitted to have been incalculable. But, while this is so, it is 
frequently asserted that Methodism, as a Church organism, is 
unfitted, for the more educated and aristocratic circles. A very 
recent writer, for whose opinions we have very great respect, 
and whose judgment, perhaps, is as impartial as a clergyman's 
of the Church of England can be, has said — as if it were the 
gravest charge against Methodism — " It can never make any 
deep impression on the cultivated classes ; " " it can, at best, 
be only the Church of the poor and of the lower middle class- 
es." If this be so, Mr. Abbey may be reminded that the 
same thing was true of the gospel in the times of our Lord and 
his apostles. As it was then, it may be now, that " not many 
wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble 
are called." " Hearken, my beloved brethren, hath not God 
chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the 
kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him % " If 
Methodism, in the eighteenth century, was adapted to the poor 
— to the well-nigh universally neglected poor — and, as neither 
Mr. Abbey nor any other will question, was adapted to them 
far more than was any other form of evangelicalism, did not 
Methodism, in a greater degree than any other Church, have the 
divinest sanction that the gospel gives ? In preaching specially 
to the poor, in lifting up the poor, in saving the poor, did not 
Mr. Wesley and his preachers prove that they had drank deeper 
into the spirit of Him who said, " The Spirit of the Lord is 
upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel 
to the poor?" In an age when the gospel itself was most 
fiercely assailed and Christian faith put to its severest tests, 
Mr. Wesley and the Methodist preachers could confidently 
appeal to their successes among the poor as the most irrefra- 

414 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

gable evidence of the truth of the gospel. By preaching it to 
the poor and turning thousands of the most degraded and 
outcast from sin and Satan to God, they gave — far more than 
the evidence writers — the highest proof of its divinity and of 
their own commission to preach it. 

But it is further said by the same writer, " Great, therefore, 
as was its moral and spiritual power among large classes of the 
people, Methodism was never able to rank among great nation- 
al reformations." Before we give the answer to this, we ask, 
Is it true that Methodism " can never make any deep impres- 
sion on the cultivated classes ; " that " it can, at best, be only 
the Church of the poor and of the lower middle classes?" 
Let us see. The conquests of Methodism in England among 
" the cultivated classes," however circumscribed, were greater 
than like triumphs of the gospel in the earlier days of the 
primitive Church. They were greater in London, in Bristol, 
and in Manchester, than in Jerusalem, in Nazareth, and in 
Capernaum ; in England, in Scotland, and in Ireland, than in 
Judea, in Achaia, and in Borne. But, after all, why were the 
triumphs of Methodism in England no greater among "the 
cultivated classes ? " was it from any want of adaptation? How 
is it, then, that outside of England, and notably in the United 
States, Methodism has shown equal adaptation to all — to rich 
and poor, to the learned and unlearned, to the high and the 
lowly ? In the United States, Methodism is found in all the 
learned professions, in the presidencies of colleges, in the halls 
of the national Congress, in the highest departments of State, 
and in embassies to courts of the most exalted of sovereigns ; 
nor has it been unrepresented in the mansion of the nation's 
Presidents. There is good reason to assign for this. In the 
United States there is no State religion to allure by its prefer- 
ments. Methodism in the new world, on far more equal terms 
than in the old, entered into the work of winning souls. Like 
results to those in America, and far more significant, would 
have been witnessed in England, if Methodism had had no 

Wesley and the Evidence Weitees. 415 

powerful State religion, no Establishment, to hinder its prog- 
ress. Remove this barrier — give to "Wesleyanism an equal 
field — and see what progress it will make ! It is idle, there- 
fore, to say that Methodism " was never able to rank among 
great national reformations." 

What chance has Methodism, or any other Nonconformist 
body, when it comes into competition with an Establishment 
of such powerful patronage, such high social position, such 
boasted prestige, such prideful associations, such an historic 
past, such great revenues, and such splendid universities ? At 
this day, how many sons of the wealthier and more educated 
Methodists are enticed into the Establishment ! To mention 
one thing alone, what a power has the Establishment through 
its great universities ! To secure their degrees, to attain their 
fellowships, how many sons of w T ealthy Wesleyans have been 
drawn away from the Church of their Methodist fathers ! 
This thing alone has exercised a powerful influence against 
Methodism, and in the very line about which we are writing. 
Just as Pomponius valued the cognomen which he received 
from Athens more than his illustrious descent from Numa 
Pompilius ; as Marcus Tullius esteemed the praises of the 
Greek poet Archias more than the honors of the Roman con- 
sulate ; and as the tyrant Nero prized the wreath which he 
won in a contest at Olympia above the imperial purple and 
diadem, so, at this day, there are "Wesleyan preachers who 
prefer the degree of Master of Arts from Oxford or Cam- 
bridge to the highest honorary degrees conferred by the best 
American colleges. 

What, then, has prevented Methodism from taking "rank 
with great national reformations ? " The question would better 
not be pressed, for its true answer makes far more against 
the Establishment than against Methodism. That the National 
Church did not comprehend Methodism is a graver charge than 
that Methodism did not absorb the National Church. It is a 
graver charge that the temple and the synagogue rejected the 

416 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

Messenger of the Covenant and the Fulfiller of their Law, than 
that the promised Messiah failed to pervade the Jewish estab- 
lishment with his spirit. It was a graver charge that the Porch 
and the Garden, the Academy and the Lyceum, condemned the 
preaching of the Cross as foolishness, than that the gospel of 
Christ was powerless to turn their proud disciples to the truth 
as it is in Jesus. The philosophers of Athens were more to be 
blamed for rejecting St. Paul, than St. Paul was for not con- 
verting them to the worship of " the unknown God." That a 
divinely- favored institution — such as Methodism by its mission 
to the poor and success among the outcast has proved itself to 
be — made no greater impression upon the Establishment is a 
charge that lies more heavily at the door of the Establishment 
than at the door of Methodism. That Methodism did not 
reach the cultivated classes and become a national reformation 
is because an institution such as is the National Church can 
never be wholly pervaded by a great revival. At least, never 
this side of a millennium — nor even then, for the very causes 
which hasten a future personal reign of Christ on earth 
are at variance with the whole theory of a Church under the 
control of or in union with the secular power. A Church 
that admits so wide a latitudinarianism and so many self- 
seekers as a State Church necessarily must, can never ap- 
proximate to any thing like a Church in which the multi- 
tude are of one heart and of one soul — where no man says 
that aught of the things which he possesses is his own — and 
where all with great power bear witness to the resurrection 
of the Lord Jesus. Many, very many, splendid examples of 
piety it will have ; but it must also ever have thousands 
who, having the form, deny the power of godliness. This 
is a gangrene to which a National Church more than any 
other must be liable. Self-seekers will always find a wide 
place in Establishments ; outside there will be but scanty room. 
But is it a fact that even in England Methodism has taken 
no hold on "the cultivated classes," and that it cannot "rank 

Wesley and the Evidence Wkitees. 417 

among great national reformations % " Directly, this may be so 
in part ; indirectly, it is not so. Indirectly, bnt none the less 
surely, Methodism has affected the whole nation. The National 
Church has been largely pervaded by its spirit — notably the 
evangelical party which, at times, has been the dominant party 
of the Establishment. The non-conformist Churches have 
been awaked to new spiritual life by its teaching. The higher 
middle classes, the learned universities, lordly nobles, high- 
born ladies, and even the court itself, have all been more or 
less under the influence of Methodism. Whether a national 
reformation or not, the whole nation has been made the better 
by it. Its effects are felt all over England, and throughout 
all her dependencies. They are seen in the great evangel- 
ical enterprises which have made the first half of the nine- 
teenth century the most signal in Church history since apos- 
tolic times — in its benevolent and eleemosynary institutions, 
in its domestic and foreign missions, in its Sunday-school, 
Tract, and Bible Societies, and above all, in the enlarged 
Christian charity which binds more closely together Chris- 
tians of every name, of every land, and of every nation and 
color, and which has made it possible for thousands of dif- 
ferent denominations to unite on a common platform and for 
a common purpose — the salvation of souls and the subjuga- 
tion of the world to the cross of Christ. 

And thus did John "Wesley, by his direct and powerful 
appeals to the demonstrating and witnessing Spirit, by re- 
claiming the outcast, by elevating the poor, by reviving the 
national and non-conformist Churches, and by reforming the 
nation, do incomparably more to prove the divinity of the 
gospel than all the evidence and other writers of the eighteenth 


METHODISM is a result of great labor, a concentration 
of mighty religious forces. In it the facts of Christianity 
are organized, and its principles applied to human life. That 
it was founded with much care, both in respect to the wants 
of man and the spirit of the gospel, appears from the strength 
and simplicity of its structure, the grace and vigor of its de- 
velopment, the fervor and activity of its spirit, and the charac- 
ter and extent of its influence. While Methodism does not 
rest entirely upon the work of John "Wesley — while there are 
a thousand facts and circumstances clustering about it and 
attaching themselves to it, like the confluences of a great 
river system increasing its volume and momentum — still, in 
the highest degree of truthfulness and consistency, he must 
be its acknowledged founder. For the formulation of its 
doctrine, it depends largely upon the Church of England ; for 
much of its ardent faith and active holiness, upon the Mora- 
vians ; for its precision, in no small degree upon the character of 
the men who labored with Mr. Wesley ; for its early and wide 
extension, upon great national and international movements; 
(movements which created new nationalities on the one hand, 
and on the other annihilated pre-existing ones ;) for the strength 
and free course of its principles, upon the character of the Wes- 
ley and Annesley families ; and, finally, for many of its most ad- 
mirable features, upon the domestic training of Susanna Wesley. 
It does not detract from the greatness of a reformer that the 
material for his work was already existing, and its foundation 
already laid. He who discovers congruities and affinities in 
facts and phenomena is often of more service to the world than 
he who discovered the facts but was unable to bring them 

Wesley the Worker. 419 

into practical use. Mr. "Wesley was truly a great reformer, 
though he found helps in the reformation which he wrought. 
The evidences that he was destined to become a thorough and 
effectual laborer in the work of reform appeared in his early 
life. He seized every advantage which was offered to him, 
turning it to service that he might bless men and glorify God, 
and despising nothing that would make him wiser or better, 
ever seeking light from his parents, brothers, and friends, and 
trying all by the word of God. 

The labors of Mr. "Wesley may be classified as follows : — 

First. His work of self -improvement. 

Secondly. His work for others. 

In subduing the passions and appetites of the body, bringing 
all under subjection to the will of God, Mr. "Wesley's conduct 
reminds us of that of St. Paul. The rigid discipline under 
which he held his physical powers could have been maintained 
only by one whose heart was fixed more upon spiritual good 
than upon fleshly enjoyments. He allowed his body as much 
sleep as was requisite, and that quantity and quality of food 
and raiment that were necessary, but no more. As for rest, he 
said he f ound that in a change of labor. In early life he writes : 
" I am full of business, but have found time to attend to my 
writing by rising an hour earlier in the morning and 

going into company an hour later in the evening." In another 
instance, finding himself wakeful at nights, he believed it to 
be the result of giving too many hours to the bed : so hq took 
one hour from the night, adding it to the day, experimenting 
for three or four days, until he had abridged his nights by as 
many hours ; and found that point of separation between the 
night and day, which left on the one side the length of time he 
required for sleep, and on the other that during which he was 
able to work. Recognizing the fact that "bodily exercise 
profiteth little," yet, for the sake of that little, he so exercised 
himself that in his body and spirit he might "glorify God, 
whether in eating or in drinking." 

420 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

His mental discipline was as severe and as systematic as his 
physical. His acquaintance with the laws of mind enabled 
him to marshal the faculties in perfect order, and to have all 
that was within him to praise the Lord. A course of study 
prepared by him for his own guidance, before he was twenty- 
five years of age, shows to what various subjects he applied 
his mind, and how he confined it to order and regularity. 
" Mondays and Tuesdaj^s were devoted to the Greek and Ro- 
man classics, historians, and poets. Wednesdays, to logic and 
ethics. Thursdays, to Hebrew and Arabic. Fridays, to meta- 
physics and natural philosophy. Saturdays, to oratory and 
poetry, chiefly composing. Sundays, to divinity." 

With him the cultivation of the mind was subordinate to 
nothing excepting purity of the heart, and that in order to have 
all his powers consecrated to God. Had he lacked this rigid 
mental discipline and large intellectual culture, he could not 
have established Methodism. The clarion call that was to sum- 
mon the sleeping formalist to action, and arouse the far-off 
and neglected thousands, calling all to the way of faith and 
the witness of the Spirit, could allow no uncertain sound in 
those times of dreamy forgetfulness, open infidelity, and mis- 
guided religionists : it sounded the notes of reason as well as 
of excitement ; of philosophy as well as of love. It was not a 
time for superficiality or fanaticism to pass for religion. Ev- 
ery thing that showed signs of making innovations upon the 
established religion had to go into the crucible ; hence Method- 
ism was compelled to be open for the consideration and criticism 
of all men. It could not be placed under a bushel. Every 
point of doctrine and every tenet must be seen and read of all 
men. Who, of all the characters of his age — nay, of any age 
since that of the apostles — was better prepared for the accom- 
plishment of this great work than he, concerning whom the 
illustrious Dr. Johnson said : " I could talk all day and all 
night too with " him ? — The man profuse in his readings, thor- 
ough in his studies, prudent in his conduct, orderly in his 

Wesley the Worker. 421 

habits; possessing zeal without rashness, erudition without 
affectation, and holiness without hypocrisy? Mr. "Wesley's 
accomplishments would have given him a high place in any 
sphere of life which he might have chosen, military, literary, 
or political ; but with all his ability he laid himself upon the 
altar of our holy religion to be what God willed. 

As has been intimated above, the cultivation which he gave 
both body and mind had especial reference to the welfare of the 
soul. "With him every thing was connected with religion, and 
religion with every thing. The state of his soul was always 
a subject of interest and inquiry. Self-examination was a duty 
of every day. It is to be doubted if any one ever subjected 
the heart to a more regular, searching, and candid examination. 
The deceitful heart does not readily turn inward to look at 
itself. Self-examination is one of its severest tasks ; but in 
Mr. Wesley's case this seemed easy. Finding his religious state 
below that of a scripturally perfect man, he strove by various 
exercises to raise it to the desired standard, but found the 
righteousness which is of the law inadequate to the demands 
of the heart. He then consulted all the good persons with 
whom he met, and the works of good men, relative to the 
question of finding perfect peace. 

His correspondence with his parents on this subject shows 
how truly anxious he was. Nothing less than the fullness of 
God could satisfy him. His soul fainted, crying out for the 
living God. His heart was open to both man and God for 
correction and improvement in the highest sense. It is com- 
mon for men to pass through life with that character which the 
world gives them, so far as this is flattering, but he was willing 
to be known as imperfect that he might become perfect. 
When the peace and comfort of the Holy Ghost had filled his 
heart, his zeal was quickened and his energy doubled. He then 
entered fully upon the work of leading the world to the Lamb 
of God, that taketh away its sin. " When thou art converted, 
strengthen thy brethren," and " If ye know these things, happy 

422 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

are ye if ye do them," were texts well understood by him, and 
highly exemplified in his life. 

He worked for the conversion of others with the same inces- 
sant application, the same strong faith, the same frankness and 
earnestness, with which he labored to become himself like 
Christ. He considered no labor too great to be undertaken to 
relieve suffering humanity or glorify a gracious God. "Dili- 
gent in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord," his labors 
were as diversified as they were useful : caring for the poor 
and neglected, alleviating their sufferings, and satisfying their 
wants ; instructing the ignorant, visiting those who were in 
prison, lifting up the head of the dejected ; administering to 
the wants of the sick ; cheering the dying with exhortations, 
prayers, and songs, as they crossed the flood. One of his biog- 
raphers says of him : " In mercy to the bodies of men, his 
friend, Mr. Howard, was the only person I ever knew who 
could be compared to him." 

With reference to his benevolence, it has been said that he 
gave away every thing which he received excepting so much 
as was necessary to meet his obligations, resolving to be his 
own executor. 

Besides these blessings conferred immediately upon the bod- 
ies of men, he did a great amount of writing. His writings 
consist of both prose and poetry, and embrace several of the 
varieties of composition : letters, journals, compilations, com- 
mentaries, sermons, etc. Few men have associated so much 
writing with an equal amount of other labor. All of his writ- 
ings possess a high degree of character ; every -where demon- 
strating the principle of candor, order, and a design to glorify 
God. All manifest that spirit of care and appreciation of 
time which caused their author to remark, in reply to the re- 
quest, " Do not be in a hurry," " A hurry ! No, I have no 
time to be in a hurry." 

His great reasoning powers, patience, and comprehension, 
rendered him eminently fit to conduct that line of defense 

Wesley the Worker. 423 

always so necessary in religions reformations, and upon the pru- 
dent management of which so much depends. The high 
around which Methodism had taken made it necessary that its 
controversies should be as pure as its character. Few men 
could have entered into its extensive controversies and con- 
ducted them with less selfishness or more godliness ; with a 
more candid acknowledgment of the merits of the arguments 
of its opponents, or with a more cordial invitation to have the 
defects of its own advocates pointed out. His arguments were 
clear, pungent, and forcible ; and are of great service to-day in 
the discussion of subjects to which they apply. 

His sermons contain a spiritual richness which show them to 
be the composition of one whose heart was well informed con- 
cerning the gospel, and thoroughly prepared for the work by 
the Holy Ghost. In all of his sermons there are that depth of 
thoughtfulness, clearness of statement, fullness of experience, 
and acquaintance with the great subjects of human want and 
divine grace which we naturally expect in the words of the 
messenger of God to man. 

In preaching he was instant in season and out of season. All 
humanity had a claim upon him. In the streets or fields, in 
the wilderness or upon the ocean, wherever he could obtain 
hearers, he preached. These hearers might be the leaders of 
the very mob that was incensed against him, and determined 
upon either stopping his mouth or killing him ; they might be 
the wild red men, or the enslaved black men of America, or 
the nobility of England and the governors in America. He 
became all things unto all men. He says : " Wherever I see 
one or a thousand men running into hell, be it in England, 
Ireland, or France — yea, in Europe, Asia, Africa, or America 
— I will stop them if I can; as a minister of Christ, I will 
beseech them in his name to turn back and be reconciled to 
God." Preaching was one of his regular duties, common to 
every day. Like St. Paul, so far as in him lay, he was ready. 

To the world his preaching was as words of authority, in 


424 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

demonstration of the Spirit and of power, cutting like a two- 
edged sword, convicting and converting sinners to Christ. 
Thus in Great Britain and America he laid the foundations of 
Methodism deep in the hearts of men. In the fifty years of 
his itinerancy he is. said to have preached more than forty thou- 
sand times, traveling more than four thousand miles annually. 

As the messenger of God he called to the thousands to repent 
and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ ; they obeyed the call, 
and thus gathered around him as their leader and guide. Ex- 
cluded from other bodies of Christians, they turned for 
strength to him who had been the means of enlightening them. 
This placed upon him new and weighty responsibilities — the 
organizing of these thousands, scattered over the British Isles 
and America. He had to discipline as well as indoctrinate 
them ; to become their counselor and defender; to represent 
them and plead for them in the presence of the dignitaries of 
both civil and ecclesiastical courts ; to bear all the blame for 
exciting the people to irregular meetings, to meet all the oppo- 
sition which misguided Christians could instigate, the tongue 
of calumny invent, or an infuriated mob execute. 

He was charged, on the one hand, with being prompted to 
his great work by a love of money ; and on the other, with 
being controlled by the appetency for power. Only the few 
who were very closely associated with him, and who partook 
of his spirit, understood that the almost unlimited power 
which he exercised over the Societies was not commen- 
surate with the equally unlimited duties which he had to 
perform in order to preserve their proper equilibrium, and 
present them blameless before the throne of God. Had he 
faltered, the work of his life would have been paralyzed. 
Had he been less temperate than zealous, less prudent than 
powerful, he might have led his adherents and associates out 
to suffer the embarrassments of the votaries of Baal. Had 
his self-consciousness been greater than his godliness, he might 
have held them to himself, but at the same time have drawu 

Wesley the Wobkek. 425 

them from Christ. O, Holy Ghost ! what canst thou not do 
for man to enable him to bear the burden and heat of the day ! 
to endure hardness as a good soldier ! Thou implantedst in 
Wesley the spirit of work, making him like Him who " must 
be about his Father's business." Thou who preparedst him 
for the field, and the field for him, what wilt Thou not do for 
those who will not be " weary in well-doing ! " 

When we cast the eye over the field, the wide field now 
occupied and worked by five millions of living Methodists — 
when we think of the multiplied millions who have fallen 
asleep — when we begin to think of the incalculable service 
which Methodism has rendered in exciting the moving hosts of 
the Lord, under a hundred names, to holiness and to God, we 
can but exclaim, Surely the little one has become a thousand ! 

When we consider the firmness and depth which the Spirit 
of Christ, as taught by Wesley, has in the world, and when 
we behold the glory of the possibilities of this Spirit, we 
thank God for the great, indefatigable Wesley, the worker. 
What he accomplished for man and God can be counted only 
in eternity. It is more glorious than the work of the con- 
queror, more effectual than that of the statesman, more beau- 
tiful than that of the sculptor, more enduring than that 
of the author. Yea, it is of a more exalted character than all 
of these combined ; it is connected with the good work of 
faith in all ages, establishing upon earth that mountain of 
holiness which is to elevate the entire race up to the very 
throne of God itself. 

In that life preserved beyond the threescore and ten — 
to do such grand and glorious work, and to continue that 
work with vigorous mind and strong hand to the very end of 
life — there are to be found many beautiful examples and 
useful lessons. That orderly life, looking right onward, im- 
pressing every one with its characteristics of exactness, tem- 
perance, and faith, has given to Methodism a similar spirit. 
Without this order Weslev could not have influenced the 

426 The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 

world nor glorified God to the extent that he has done. Had 
this element not been large in his constitution, there would 
not obtain that general uniformity and those common qualities 
in the divided Methodism of to-day. By a stricter attention 
to the holy and systematic manner of life and work of its truly 
great founder, Methodism would be brought into a closer and 
higher unity, and thus effect a thousandfold more good than it 
is doing. 

May these branches bring their work into a warmer asso- 
ciation, seize the favoring signs of the times, and, with Wes- 
ley's zeal and faith, rush to battle to aid in conquering the 
world to our Lord and his Christ forever ! 


IF John Wesley was the great leader and organizer, Charles 
Wesley the great poet, and George Whitefield the great 
preacher, of Methodism, the highest type of saintliness which 
it produced was unquestionably John Fletcher. ISTever, per- 
haps, since the rise of Christianity, has the mind which was 
in Christ Jesus been more faithfully copied than it was in 
the vicar of Madeley. To say that he was a good Christian 
is saying too little. He was more than Christian — he was 
Christlike. It is said that Voltaire, when challenged to pro- 
duce a character as perfect as that of Jesus Christ, at once 
mentioned Fletcher of Madeley ; and if the comparison be- 
tween the God-man and any child of Adam were in any case 
admissible, it would be difficult to find one with whom it 
could be instituted with less appearance of blasphemy than 
this excellent man. Fletcher was a Swiss by birth and educar- 
tion, and to the last he showed traces of his foreign origin. 
But England can claim the credit of having formed his 
spiritual character. Soon after his settlement in England as 
tutor to the sons of Mr. Hill, of Terne Hall, he became at- 
tracted by the Methodist movement, which had then (1752) 
become a force in the country, and in 1753 he was admitted 
into holy orders. The account of his appointment to the. 
living of Madeley presents a very unusual phenomenon in 
the eighteenth century. His patron, Mr. Hill, offered him 
the living of Dunham, " where the population was small, the 
income good, and the village situated in the midst of a fine 
sporting country." These were no recommendations in the 
eyes of Fletcher, and he declined the living on the ground 
that the income was too large and the population too small. 

428 The Wesley Memoktal Volume. 

Madeley had the advantage of having only half the income 
and double the population of Dunham. On being asked 
whether he would accept Madeley if the vicar of that parish 
would consent to exchange it for Dunham, Fletcher gladly em- 
braced the offer. As the vicar of Madeley had naturally no 
objection to so advantageous an exchange, Fletcher was insti- 
tuted to the cure of the large Shropshire village, in which he 
spent a quarter of a century. There is no need to record his 
apostolical labors in this humble sphere of duty. Madeley 
was a, rough parish, full of colliers ; but there was also a 
sprinkling of resident gentry. Like his friend John Wesley, 
Fletcher found more fruits of his work among the former than 
among the latter. But none, whether rich or poor, could 
resist the attractions of this saintly man. In 1772 he ad- 
dressed " An Appeal to Matter of Fact and Common Sense " 
to the principal inhabitants of the parish of Madeley, the 
dedication of which is so characteristic that it is worth quoting 
in full : " Gentlemen," writes the vicar, " you are no less 
entitled to my private labors than the inferior class of my 
parishioners. As you do not choose to partake with them of 
my evening instructions, I take the liberty to present you with 
some of my morning meditations. May these well-meant 
efforts of my pen be more acceptable to you than those of my 
tongue ! And may you carefully read in your closets what 
you have, perhaps, inattentively heard in the church ! I ap- 
peal to the Searcher of hearts, that I had rather impart truth 
than receive tithes. You kindly bestow the latter upon me ; 
grant me the satisfaction of seeing you receive favorably the 
former from, gentlemen, your affectionate minister and obedi- 
ent servant, J. Fletcher." 

When Lady Huntingdon founded her college for the train- 
ing of ministers, at Trevecca, she invited Fletcher to take a 
sort of general superintendence over it. This Fletcher under- 
took without fee or reward ; not, of course, with the intention 
of residing there, for he had no sympathy with the bad cus- 

Wesley and Fletcher. 429 

torn of non-residence, which was only too common in his day. 
pie was simply to visit the college as frequently as he could ; 
" and," writes Dr. Benson, the first head-master, " he was 
received as an angel of God." " It is not possible," he adds, 
" for me to describe the veneration in which we all held him. 
Like Elijah in the schools of the prophets, he was revered, he 
was loved, he was almost adored. My heart kindles while I 
write. Here it was that I saw, shall I say an angel in human 
flesh ? I should not far exceed the truth if I said so " — and 
much more to the same effect. It was the same wherever 
Fletcher went ; the impression he made was extraordinary ; 
language seems to fail those who tried to describe it. "I 
went," said one who visited him in an illness, (he was always 
delicate,) " to see a man that had one foot in the grave, but I 
found a man that had one foot in heaven." " Sir," said Mr. 
Yenn, to one who asked him his opinion of Fletcher, " he was 
a luminary— & luminary did I say ? — he was a sun ! I have 
known all the great men for these fifty years, but none like 
him." John "Wesley was of the same opinion ; in Fletcher he 
saw realized in the highest degree all that he meant by 
"Christian perfection." For sometime he hesitated to write 
a description of this great man, " judging that only an Apelles 
was proper to paint an Alexander ; " but at length he pub- 
lished his well-known sermon on the . significant text, " Mark 
the perfect man," etc., (Psalm xxxvii, 37,) which he con- 
cluded with this striking testimony to the unequaled charac- 
ter of his friend : " I was intimately acquainted with him for 
above thirty years ; I conversed with him morning, noon, and 
night without the least reserve, during a journey of many 
hundred miles ; and in all that time I never heard him speak 
one improper word, nor saw him do an improper action. To 
conclude : many exemplary men have I known, holy in heart 
and life, within fourscore years, bat one equal to him I have 
not known — one so inwardly and outwardly devoted to God. 
So unblamable a character in every respect I have not found 

430 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

either in Europe or America ; and I scarce expect to find 
another such on this side of eternity." Fletcher, on his part, 
was one of the few parish clergymen who to the end thor- 
oughly appreciated John Wesley. He thought it " shameful 
that no clergyman should join Wesley to keep in the Church 
the work God had enabled him to carry on therein ; " and he 
was half inclined to join him as his deacon, "not," he adds, 
with genuine modesty, " with any view of presiding over the 
Methodists after you, but to ease you a little in your old age, 
and to be in the way of receiving, perhaps doing, more good." 
Wesley was very anxious that Fletcher should be his successor, 
and proposed it to him in a characteristic letter ; but Fletcher 
declined the office, and had he accepted, the plan could never 
have been carried out, for the hale old man survived his 
younger friend several years. The last few years of Fletcher's 
life were cheered by the companionship of one to whom no 
higher praise can be awarded than to say that she was worthy 
of being Fletcher's wife. Next to Susanna Wesley herself, 
Mrs. Fletcher stands pre-eminent among the heroines of Meth- 
odism. In 1785 the saint entered into his everlasting rest, 
dying in harness at his beloved Madeley. His death-bed scene 
is too sacred to be transferred to these pages. 

Indeed, there is something almost unearthly about the whole 
of this man's career. He is an object, in some respects, rather 
for admiration than for imitation. He could do and say 
things which other men could not without some sort of un- 
reality. John Wesley, with his usual good sense, warns his 
readers of this in reference to one particular habit, viz. : " the 
faculty of raising useful observations from the most trifling 
incidents." " In him," he says, " it partly resulted from 
nature, and was partly a supernatural gift. But what was 
becoming and graceful in Mr. Fletcher would be disgustful 
almost in any other." An ordinary Christian, for example, 
who, when he was having his likeness taken, should exhort " the 
limner, and all that were in the room, not only to get the out- 

Wesley and Fletchee. 431 

lines drawn, but the colorings also of the image of Jesus on 
their hearts " ; who, " when ordered to be let blood," should, 
" while the blood was running into the cup, take occasion to 
expatiate on the precious blood-shedding of the Lamb of God ;" 
who should tell his cook " to stir up the fire of divine love in 
her soul," and entreat his housemaid "'to sweep every corner 
in her heart ; " who, when he received a present of a new 
coat, should, in thanking the donor, draw a minute and elabo- 
rate contrast between the broadcloth and the robe of Christ's 
righteousness — would run the risk of making not only him- 
self, but the sacred subjects which he desired to recommend, 
ridiculous. Unfortunately there were not a few, both in 
Fletcher's day and subsequently, who did fall into this error ; 
and, with the very best intentions, dragged the most solemn 
truths through the dirt. Fletcher, besides being so heavenly- 
minded that what would seem forced and strained in others 
seemed perfectly natural in him, was also a man of cultivated 
understanding, and, with occasional exceptions, of refined and 
delicate taste ; but in this matter he was a dangerous model to 
follow. Who but Fletcher, for instance, could, without savor- 
ing of irreverence or even blasphemy, when offering some 
ordinary refreshment to his friends, have accompanied it with 
the words : " The body of our Lord Jesus Christ," etc., and 
" the blood of our Lord," etc. ? But, extraordinary as was 
the spiritual-mindedness of this man of God, he could, without 
an effort, descend to earthly matters on occasion. One of the 
most beautiful traits of his character was illustrated on one of 
these occasions. He had done the government good service 
by writing on the American Rebellion, and Lord Dartmouth 
was commissioned to ask him whether any preferment would 
be acceptable to him. " I want nothing," answered the simple- 
hearted Christian, "but more grace." His love of children 
was another touching characteristic of Fletcher. " The birds 
of my fiue wood," he wrote to a friend, " have almost done 
singing; but I have met with a parcel of children whose 

t32 The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 

hearts seem turned toward singing the praises of God, and we 
sing every day from four to five. Help us by your prayers." 
And again : " The day I preached, I met with some children 
in my wood, walking or gathering strawberries. I spoke to 
them about our Father, our common Father ; we felt a touch 
of brotherly affection. They said they would sing to their 
Father as well as the birds ; and followed me, attempting to 
make such melody as you know is commonly made in these 
parts [Switzerland]. I outrode them, but some of them had 
the patience to follow me home, and said they would speak with 
me ; but the people of the house stopped them, saying I would 
not be troubled with children. They cried, and said they 
were sure I would not say so, for I was their good brother. 
The next day, when I heard it, I inquired after them, and 
invited them to come to me ; which they have done every day 
since. I make them little hymns which they sing." At an- 
other time, when he had a considerable number of children 
before him, in a place in his parish, as he was persuading 
them to mind what they were about, and to remember the text 
which he was going to mention, just then a robin flew into 
the house, and their eyes were presently turned after him. 
" ISTow," said he, " I see you can attend to that robin. "Well, 
I will take that robin for my text." He then gave them a 
useful lecture on the harmlessness of that little creature, and 
the tender care of its Creator. 

"What has thus far been said of Mr. Fletcher was said by 
me in the " English Church of the Eighteenth Century " — the 
very recent work of Mr. Abbey and myself. To that sketch 
I embrace the opportunity, which the editor of the " Wesley 
Memoeial Yoltjme " has kindly given me, of adding a few 
words. And this I do, because, if one were merely to read 
the sketch detached from its context, he might naturally but 
erroneously assume that Mr. Fletcher, who is described as the 
highest type of saintliness, is held by me to have been a finer 
character than John "Wesley, who is spoken of as the great 

Wesley and Fletcher. 433 

leader and organizer. Those who have read the whole chapter 
in the " English Church of the Eighteenth Century," will know 
that this is not the case. But, as others may not, for that 
cause, and also because this article is headed "Wesley and 
Fletcher," a few additional remarks seem necessary on the 
relationship between these two remarkable men. 

God uses very different instruments to effect his purposes ; 
and it would be difficult to conceive a greater contrast, in many 
respects, than that which existed between John Wesley and 
John Fletcher. Of course all minor differences sink into in- 
significance when compared with the one great bond of union 
which attached them to each other. The love of God, and of 
man for God's sake, was the grand motive power of both. To 
do all the good he could in his generation was equally the object 
of both. They were like two concentric circles, each revolv- 
ing in his own orbit, but both around the same center — and 
that center was Christ. It may be interesting to trace the 
working of these two very different types of Christian charac- 
ter, engaged — and most harmoniously engaged — in one common 

Some of the American readers of these lines may have 
crossed the broad Atlantic and visited the beautiful land which 
had the honor of giving birth to John de la Fleckere. They 
may have sailed on the placid and lovely lake of Leman, which 
was so familiar to him. And if so, the contrast between the 
rough ocean and the calm lake must have occurred vividly to 
their minds. This contrast is no inapt illustration of the differ- 
ence between Wesley and Fletcher. As one traces the course 
of John Wesley, he is reminded of that ocean — its magnitude, 
its invigorating power, its occasional roughness, its aptitude to 
disagree at times with those who cross its surface. As one 
studies the character of Fletcher, he is reminded of the peace- 
ful lake, unruffled by a breeze, presenting the most charming 
scenery on all sides, but now and then exposed to a storm, 
which seems strangely out of keeping with its general charac- 

434 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

ter.* Some will prefer the ocean, others the lake ; so, some 
will prefer "Wesley, others Fletcher. But as no one with an 
eye for the beautiful can help admiring the lake ; so, no one 
with an eye for the morally and spiritually beautiful, can help 
admiring Fletcher. From all his Christian contemporaries 
who knew that saintly man, there arose one universal chorus 
of praise. But many will find fault with the ocean ; and many 
of his contemporaries, whom Wesley would have been — nay ! 
was — the first to own as true children of God,f found fault with 
the great reformer. He was sometimes, as his letters and re- 
ported sayings still show, rather rough ; but, just as almost 
every body is the better for a sea voyage, so almost every 
one was the better for intercourse with John Wesley; just as 
the sea breeze is always pure and bracing, though occasionally 
rude withal, so it was with him. He may have been brought 
into collision with some, and ruffled them a little ; but his 
general influence was as healthful and bracing to the spiritual 
man as the sea-breeze is to the natural man. If the lake is 
more beautiful, the sea is the grander ; and perhaps even the 
relative magnitude of the two pieces of water represents not 
altogether unfairly the comparative greatness of Wesley and 
Fletcher. If it is harder to pick a flaw in Fletcher's character 
than in Wesley's, yet the latter was decidedly the more inter- 
esting, the more suggestive, the more fruitful of good to the 
community at large. Fletcher could never have originated 
the work that Wesley did ; he was not the born ruler of men 
that Wesley was. Wesley called Fletcher an Alexander ; but 
he himself was the true spiritual Alexander. Take him for 
all in all, none of the excellent men who worked with him, or 
under him — not even Fletcher himself — approached his stature. 

* Fletcher and the Calvinistic Controversy. 

■)■ Witness his noble testimony to his enemy Bishop Gibson : " that good man 
who is now, I hope, with God : " also, his repeated and almost enthusiastic encom- 
iums on William Law, etc. 


SO long as Methodistic memory and affection shall endure, 
so long shall the little Irish town of Moybeg be remem- 
bered as the birthplace of Adam Clarke. The father of the 
eminent commentator was a "man standing five feet seven, 
with good shoulders, an excellent leg, a fine hand, every way 
well proportioned, and extremely active." He is also repre- 
sented to have been a superior classical scholar, whose repute 
was so high that there were few priests, clergymen, surgeons, 
or lawyers resident in the north of Ireland who had not 
been educated by him. "While the father of Dr. Clarke was of 
English origin, his mother was a descendant of the Scotch 
M'Leans, of Mull, in the Hebrides, a hardy race, and remark- 
able for muscular strength. Her learned son, who ever cher- 
ished a tender veneration for his mother, described her as 
" sensible, but not beautiful ; as something above the average 
height, erect in person, graceful in her movements, and one who 
feared God." At the time of the marriage of these honored 
parents the mother was a Presbyterian, and the father was an 
Episcopalian • but these denominational preferences never in- 
terfered with the charm and harmony of their household. 
Thrice happy was the son blessed with such a parentage ! Like 
the mother of Martin Luther, Mrs. Clarke could not recollect 
with precision the year of Adam's birth, but to the best of her 
recollection the event occurred in the year 1760. 

There was nothing in Dr. Clarke's youth that gave promise 
of his future greatness. In this he reminds us of Luther, 
working with his father in the mines of Mansfield ; of Bloom- 
field, making shoes in a garret ; of Herschel, serving as a British 
6oldier ; of Davy,, working as a wood-carver ; and of Whitefield, 

436 The "Wesley Memokial Volume. 

as a waiter, in his mother's inn. His mental powers developed 
slowly. He found it difficult to master the alphabet. Harsh 
words and sore chastisements failed to elicit his genius. His 
Irish schoolmaster called him a " grievous dunce," and a class- 
mate ridiculed him as a " stupid ass." But this cruel mockery 
aroused him. as from a lethargy ; the light of a better day 
dawned upon him, and all were astonished and filled with admi- 
ration at the marvelous change. His memory became capa- 
cious and capable of embracing all learning. His understand- 
ing resembled the tent in story : " Fold it, and it was a toy in 
the hand of a lady ; spread it, and the armies of the Sultan 
reposed beneath its ample shade." He ascribed this sudden 
change to a " singular Providence which gave a strong charac- 
teristic coloring to his subsequent life." 

From an unpromising intellectual beginning he rapidly 
rose to scholastic eminence, and his reputation spread wherever 
the English language was spoken. He was one of the few 
" encyclopedic scholars " of his age. He was more or less 
familiar with almost every branch of learning. By the most 
commendable industry and perseverance he became skillful in 
the Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Samaritan, Chaldee, Syriac, Arabic, 
Persian, and Coptic languages, and also most of the modern 
languages of Western Europe. He studied with care and 
profit nearly every department of literature and of physical 
science. His knowledge was at once multifarious and, in that 
age, surprisingly accurate. His great abilities and vast ac- 
quirements were honorably recognized by membership in 
the London, Asiatic, Geological, and other learned societies of 
his day. 

Although he is best known to the Church as a commentator, 
yet he was the sincere Christian, the faithful preacher, and suc- 
cessful revivalist. His conversion was thorough, clear, and 
pronounced. One of Wesley's itinerants had penetrated to the 
north of Ireland, and among his hearers was Adam Clarke, then 
a lad of seventeen. Under the personal appeals of Thomas 

Wesley and Clarke. 437 

Barker he was led to Christ. His distress of mind was intense. 
He seemed to pray in vain. His agonies increased, and were 
indescribable. As the hours passed his darkness deepened ; 
hope departed, despair took possession of his soul. But in his 
extremity he offered one more prayer to Christ ; his grief sub- 
sided, his soul became calm — all condemnation was gone. He 
was converted ; all was sunshine ; he was filled with ineffable 

His call to the ministry was almost simultaneous with his 
conversion. He longed to tell what great things the Lord had 
done for his soul. Traveling on foot from village to village, he 
addressed his rustic neighbors with " words that burn." The 
zeal and success of the youthful exhorter attracted the notice 
of the circuit preacher of Londonderry, who wrote Mr. Wesley 
about the promising young Methodist preacher. The vener- 
able Wesley, with his rare sagacity, invited the Irish lad to 
attend the Kingswood school. When these two met Wesley 
inquired, "Do you wish to devote yourself entirely to the 
work of God ? " Clarke replied, " Sir, I wish to do and be 
whatever God pleases." Wesley laid his hands on the young 
man's head, prayed a few moments over him, and sent him 
to Bradford Circuit. Dr. Clarke was wont to call this his 
" ordination," and never wished any other. 

As a preacher and revivalist his popularity became at once 
universal. His congregations were immense, and he held the 
people spell-bound by the power of divine truth. He had the 
wisdom by which he turned many to righteousness, and was 
not content without visible fruits of his ministry. When he 
preached, the vast auditories were moved to tears, and many 
prayed aloud for mercy. The colliers of Kingswood, the mer- 
chants of Liverpool, and the literati of London melted under 
his preaching, and responded to his call to repentance. With 
him preaching was objective. He was an evangelist in the 
apostolic sense. His mission was to disciple the people. He 
expected fruit. He spake because he felt ; he felt because he 

438 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

was endued with power from on high. He believed in super- 
natural aid and in supernatural results. Gifted with such a 
faith, no marvel that sinners were converted to Christ. " Ac- 
cording to your faith be it unto you " was the promise on which 
he relied when he preached the word of the Lord. 

Such, briefly, was the man — saint, scholar, and preacher — 
whom God had chosen to be an eminent coadjutor of Wes- 
ley. In the history of all great revivals God has employed 
a variety of talents. In the college of apostles we discover 
every shade of temperament and every variety of talent. In 
the great Germanic Reformation Luther and Melanchthon 
were strange opposites, yet, happily for the Church, the sup- 
plement of each other. So, in the wondrous revival of the 
last century, the same fact is observable in "Wesley and his 
co-laborers. Howell Harris, of surpassing eloquence and 
power, in "Wales ; John Bredin, eminent for his sense and 
piety, in Ireland; John Fletcher, seraphic in spirit, analytical 
in mind, mighty in controversy, and "Whitefield, that prince of 
pulpit orators, in England — each, in his sphere, greatly aided 
the Methodist movement. And another was to be added to 
Methodism's band of illustrious workers, who, by his devotion, 
learning, and pen, was to fill a large sphere and leave an en- 
during impress upon his own age and the ages to follow. 

"What "Whitefield was to Wesley in pnlpit eloquence, Clarke 
was to Wesley in learning and authorship. They were unlike 
in their mental structure, literary tastes, and in the character 
of their productions. Wesley was logical ; Clarke was philo- 
sophical. The former was precise in his theological defini- 
tions ; the latter excelled in his generalizations.. In direct 
logic, in accuracy of style, in transparent clearness, Wesley had 
no superior. While yet at Oxford he was esteemed a com- 
petent critic in the classic languages, and when but twenty- 
three he was Greek lecturer, and moderator of the classes in 
the university. His skill in logic was extraordinary, and ena- 
bled him in his great controversies to touch the very point 

Wesley akd Clarke. 439 

where some fallacy lay, which he uncovered to the confusion 
of his opponents. To whatever department of science and lit- 
erature he turned his attention he was commendably accurate 
and profound. He wrote on divinity, poetry, -music, history, 
and on natural, moral, metaphysical, and political philosophy, 
with equal ability. Like Luther, he knew the importance of 
the press,. which he kept teeming with his publications. His 
works, including abridgments and translations, numbered 
about two hundred volumes. Familiar with the classics, his 
writings are adorned with many of their finest passages ; 
acquainted with many of the modern languages, he became 
master of their noblest thoughts ; and, ever clear and strong as 
a writer, he seemed at home on almost every subject of learn- 
ing and general literature. As scholar and author, Clarke 
was not less accurate, but broader in his range of knowledge, 
and in Oriental scholarship he had the pre-eminence. In sacred 
literature his knowledge was extraordinary, and his ability to 
communicate apparently inexhaustible. "Wesley wrote for the 
common people. He could write a tract. Clarke wrote for 
the learned, and in folios. Wesley excelled as an ecclesiastical 
legislator and administrator. He was great as an organizer, 
and had "a genius for government not inferior to that of 
Richelieu." He could comprehend and manage at once the 
outlines and the details of far-reaching plans. His Methodism 
fixes itself to the smallest locality with the utmost tenacity, 
and in its provisions reaches the ends of the earth, ever main- 
taining its unity of spirit and discipline. As one born to com- 
mand, he had the rare power of self-control and calmness of 
spirit, while he kept all around him in a healthy state of ex- 
citement and earnest work. Clarke's was another part in the 
great religious movement. As a defender and expositor of 
the oracles of God he holds, notwithstanding his acknowledged 
defects, a most distinguished position among the illustrious 
defenders and expositors of the word of God in the eight- 
eenth century. 

440 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

Dr. Clarke, as we believe, was, par excellence, the commen- 
tator of the Wesleyan movement. As a commentator he is best 
known to the Church and the world. In this is the immortal- 
ity of his name among men. His preparation for that great 
work was something wonderful. He who would comment 
with greatest profit to others on the book of books must himself 
be the master of all books. What other book known to man is 
so comprehensive ? It is the history of histories, the biography 
of biographies, the philosophy of philosophies. It contains all 
that is fundamental and beneficent in jurisprudence ; all that is 
essential and beautiful in poetry ; all that is eternal and salutary 
in ethics. It is the only authentic record extant of the first 
twenty -five centuries of the human dispensation. It was 
written for universal man, whether his home is on the mount- 
ains or in the valleys ; whether he is a dweller at the poles or 
on the equator ; whether he is a nomad of the desert or a 
mariner on the stormy deep. The domestic, social, and na- 
tional relations of life are therein defined and sanctioned. 
Therein are enforced the duties of the individual — to him- 
self, to society, to God. Its chief import is with the deep, the 
indispensable, the everlasting religious concerns of man. It 
stands alone, sublime in its isolation, as the revelation of God 
to man, and is the only inspired biography of the Son of God, 
the Saviour of the world. 

To be the commentator of such a book requires a mind of 
the highest order ; learning varied, accurate, and profound ; 
and a devout spirit, ever living in communion with the All- 
Wise and the All-Holy One. The preparation which Dr. 
Clarke made for his life-work is something wonderful, and 
indicative of his appreciation of the task he essayed. He 
had made himself familiar with the great authors of antiquity, 
from Homer and Herodotus down to the Neo-Platom'sts of 
Alexandria and the Byzantine annalists. By patient applica- 
tion he became a master of Oriental learning. In his study of 
the Hebrew he mastered Bayley's Grammar, read with zest 

Wesley and Clarke. 441 

Kennicott's Hebrew Bible, and examined with care Leigh's 
" Critica Sacra," wherein he found the literal sense of every 
Greek and Hebrew word used in the Old Testament and the 
New, with definitions enriched with theological and philosoph- 
ical notes, drawn from the best grammarians and critics. 
Grabe's Septuagint became his delight, which threw much 
light on the Hebrew, and which he read to the end of the 
Psalms, noting down the most important differences in the 
margin of a quarto Bible in three volumes. In reading Wal- 
ton's Polyglot he felt the importance of a thorough knowledge 
of the Oriental Yersions described in the Prolegomena, and 
immediately commenced the Samaritan text of the Pentateuch. 
He next applied himself to the Syriac, and was soon able to 
consult the sacred text in that version. To study the book of 
Daniel with greater profit he turned to the Chaldee, and wrote 
out a grammar to facilitate his work. While residing in 
Bristol, on his second appointment to that city, in 1798, he 
applied himself to learn Persian, using Sir William Jones' 
Grammar, and reading the gospels in the Persian version. 
To understand more accurately the Arabisms with which the 
book of Job abounds, he entered upon the study of Arabic, 
which, as a cognate of the Hebrew, ranks among the more 
strictly biblical tongues, and became, in his day, one of the 
most competent Arabic scholars in England. And to en- 
large his acquaintance with Oriental literature he acquired 
a knowledge of the Ethiopic and Coptic, and especially of 
the Sanskrit, which opened to him the treasures of Hindu 

But other branches of knowledge demanded his attention 
to qualify him for his great work. To gratify his philosoph- 
ical tastes, he read with his usual ardor, Derham's "Astro- 
Theology," Ray's " Wisdom of God in Creation," and Cham- 
bers' " Encyclopaedia," which masterly works disclosed to his 
ever-expanding mind the glory of God in the heavens and 
his wonders in the earth. Intent on beholding the Creator at 

442 The Wesley Memokial Volume. 

work, lie sought him in the chemistry of the universe and in 
the intricacies of comparative anatomy. 

And we may form some idea of his vast research and volu- 
minous reading, by the size and richness of his private library, 
which amounted to ten thousand printed volumes, and a large 
collection of ancient and Oriental manuscripts of immense 

In the year 1826 he completed his " Commentary on the 
Holy Scriptures," a monument to his learning, industry, and 
piety. It was the work of forty years of patient application, 
and accomplished amid the faithful discharge of many public 
duties. Having written the last line of his long task on his 
knees, he cleared his large study table of its pile of antique 
folios, leaving but the Bible upon it, arranged his library, and 
again bowing at the foot of his well-worn library steps, gave 
thanks to God that he had been enabled to contribute to the 
explanation and vindication of divine truth, and that the toils 
of years were ended, f 

Of the healthful influence of that great work upon the 
Church, it is not easy to speak in terms of adequate apprecia- 
tion. It has spread its banquet of wisdom and love in untold 
Christian homes on two continents, and is found to-day in the 
libraries of ministers and laymen of all denominations. It has 
its defects ; but its excellences are many. In some things it has 
been excelled by those of more recent date, yet when it is remem- 
bered that it was " begun, continued, and ended by one man, 
and that man engaged in the zealous and faithful discharge of 
so many public duties, instead of complaining that here and 
there it has a blemish, our wonder is rather excited that he 
should have brought it so far as he did toward perfection." 

Eminent as they were in scholarship, it is no marvel that 
Wesley and Clarke commanded the attention and respect of 
the English nobility. The great religious movement wherein 
they were engaged was designed by Providence to affect the 

* Etheridge's "Life of Clarke." f Stevens' " History of Methodism." 

Wesley and Clarke. 443 

opinions, the characters, and destinies of all classes of men. 
While it is an inexpressible joy to Methodists, on both sides of 
the Atlantic, that Methodism has touched and elevated the poor- 
est of the poor, and has also blessed with a new life the great 
middle classes of society, it is also true, it has enrolled among 
its most ardent and faithful adherents many who are well known 
in the higher walks of life. This was so in the beginning. 
The statesmen of his day found it convenient to secure the 
services of Mr. Wesley in times of great national emergencies, 
and not a few of England's nobility heard from his lips the 
word of the Lord gladly : and now, after the lapse of a cent- 
ury, his memory is perpetuated and his virtues are commem- 
orated by a monument in Westminster Abbey. It was, how- 
ever, reserved for Dr. Clarke to be recognized by a large num- 
ber of the English nobility, and by them to be courted and 
admired. He was invited to attend their sessions and their 
learned societies ; to mingle as a guest in their social gather- 
ings ; and he in turn received them as his guests in his own 
quiet home at Haydon Hall. He was honored with titles of 
which any man might be justly proud. Learned societies 
thought it an honor to number him among their members, and 
the British Government sought his services as an Oriental 
scholar. And thus, while Wesley touched the lowest of the 
low, Clarke touched the highest of the high. 

By their learning, piety, and zeal, the Wesleys and Clarke 
foreshadowed the mission of Methodism, and to-day all Chris- 
tendom is singing their hymns or reading their commentaries. 
Whether from ignorance of historical facts or from secta- 
rian prejudice, or from both, certain writers have created 
the impression that the founders of Methodism were indif- 
ferent to learning ; that they were zealous, but not wise ; 
emotional, but not intelligent ; pious, but not scholarly. Sister 
Churches have graciously condescended to speak of Meth- 
odists as the pioneers of Christian civilization, well adapted 
to the rusticity of the frontier and to the inferior minds of 

444 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

rural districts ; while they have not hesitated to claim for 
themselves a mission to the cultured and the affluent. The 
history, however, of the Wesleyan movement, for more than a 
hundred years, is in proof that the worthy successors of the 
Wesleys and Clarke were no less at home in palaces than in 
cottages ; in halls of learning than in cabins of illiteracy ; and 
that in every station in life they have made many converts to 
Christ. " Their line is gone out through all the earth, and 
their words to the end of the world." They have neither de- 
spised the poor nor neglected the rich. They have gone to 
universal man, created in the image of God and redeemed by 
the blood of his Son. While the chief concern of Methodism 
has been the salvation of the soul, free, full, and present, it has 
done more for the intellectual, social, spiritual, political, and 
religious advancement of man than any other branch of the 
Church of Jesus Christ. It has been a salutary power in the 
political history of England and America, and the present 
prosperity of those two greatest of Christian nations is largely 
due to the intelligent piety of the hundreds of thousands saved 
through its instrumentality. It has checked Romanism in its 
march of conquest ; it has successfully met in argument the 
advocates of infidel science ; and it has so modified Calvinism 
that the distinctive doctrines of Wesleyan Arminianism now 
form the popular theology of the day. Its measures of effi- 
ciency and success have been quietly adopted by other denom- 
inations whose prosperity has been commensurate with their 
acceptance of the spirit and teachings of John Wesley and 
Adam Clarke. 

To Dr. Newman's paper on " Wesley and Clarke " we add the notes which 
follow. — Editor. 

An itinerant preacher, without a spot on the fair escutcheon of his character ; 
one of the most extensively learned scholars of the age ; a voluminous author ; 
the friend of philosophers and princes ; and a man intensely beloved by nearly all 
who knew him. — Luke Tyerman : " Life and Times of John Wesley." 

The most eminent scholar, and one of the most effective laborers, of 
Methodism. — Dr. Abel Stevens : " History of Methodism." 

Since the time of Adam Clarke they [the Wesleyans] have not had 

"Wesley and Clarke. 445 

among them a single scholar who has enjoyed a European reputation. — Mr. 
Buckle : " History of Civilization in England." 

Clarke became as remarkable, after he had entered the Methodist ministry in 
1782, for his exemplary discharge of pulpit and pastoral duties as for the attain- 
ment of vast stores of learning. — Dr. Stoughton : " Religion in England under 
Queen Anne and the Georges." 

Dr. Adam Clarke's "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures" is, on the whole, one 
of the noblest works of the class in the entire domain of sacred literature. — Dr. 
Etheeidge: "Life of Adam Clarke, LL.D." 

It is undoubtedly the most critical and literary, and at the same time the most 
spiritual and practical, of any work of the kind that was ever published in any 
living tongue. — Samuel Dunn : " Life of Adam Clarke, LL.D., F.A.S." 

In point of erudition and acuteness it [Scott's Commentary] is not equal to 
that of Adam Clarke. In solid learning he [John Wesley] was, perhaps, not 

equal to his friend and disciple Adam Clarke. — Mr. Overton: "The English 
Church in the Eighteenth Century." 

There have arisen out of this body [the Wesleyans] some of the most 
able and distinguished individuals that ever graced and ornamented any society 
whatever., I may name one for all, the late Dr. Adam Clarke. — Sir Launcelot 
Shadwell, Vice-Chancellor, etc. : from his decision on the " Validity of Wesley's 
Deed of Declaration." 

The objects, besides many others, which seem to have occupied the greatest 
and most valuable part of your active life, cannot fail of being most interesting to 
the historian, the theologist, the legislator, and the philosopher. To these details 
I shall apply myself, and, as my heart and mind improve, I shall feel my debt of 
gratitude toward you daily increasing — an obligation I shall ever be proud to own. 
—His Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex, in a letter to Adam Clarke. 

Far from not acknowledging our worthy friend [Adam Clarke] as a genuine 
member of the Church, and of the Church of the first-born, whose names are 
written in heaven, we will take him in our arms, we will bear him in our 

bosoms, and carry him into the presence of his God and our God. — Wilberforce. 

Seeing you are such a man, I wish you were altogether our own. — Dr. Bloom- 
field, Bishop of London, to Adam Clarke. 


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THE benevolence of John Wesley was equaled by his benefi- 
cence. Like his Master he went about doing good, both 
to the souls and bodies of men. Benevolence in him was ever 
active and practical ; suffering humanity always found in him 
a willing and ready friend. The sick and poor, the widow and 
orphan, the outcast and stranger, the African slave and Indian 
savage, the condemned felons of Newgate, the imprisoned 
debtors of the Marshalsea, the ignorant miners of Cornwall, the 
rude colliers of Kingswood, and the French prisoners taken cap- 
tive in war, were alike the recipients of his boundless liberality, 
and the objects of his tenderest sympathy. From the begin- 
ning of his course at Oxford to the close of his long life in 
City Road, he was unceasingly employed in devising schemes 
and raising means for the relief of the suffering at home and 

It was for this he adopted as his motto : " Grain all you can ; 
save all you can ; and give all you can." No one ever practiced 
more fully this self-imposed and self-denying rule than John 
Wesley. That he might keep it, he was never idle ; he was 
never unemployed, or triflingly employed. He gained all he 
could, " working with his hands the thing which is good." By 
voice and pen he gained thousands of pounds, every penny of 
which, except the scantiest allowance for his own absolute neces- 
sities, he scrupulously devoted to charity. He also saved all he 
could. That he might save to the utmost, his expenses were 
reduced to the lowest possible figure. And he gave all he 
could. No man, all things considered, ever gave more to 

Wesley's Liberality and Catholicity. 453 

charity than the founder of Methodism. But besides the 
sums gained by his literary labors, much larger were the sums 
raised with voice and pen, by his direct appeals to the liber- 
ality of others. Untold, likewise, are the millions which, since 
his day till the present, have been given to charitable objects 
by the direct or indirect influence of his example. No such 
liberality as his was known to the age in which he lived; 
nothing like it had been seen since the time of the apostolic 
Churches of Macedonia. John Wesley was not only the reviv- 
alist of the spiritual life of the Churches, but of the enlarged 
liberality which, since his day, has distinguished multitudes 
within, and many without, the Church. The countless millions 
which have been contributed in both hemispheres during the 
last century and a half to the preaching of the gospel, to 
missions, to education, and to eleemosynary institutions of every 
kind, received their most powerful impetus, outside of the grace 
and example of Christ, from "Wesley's liberality. It has stimu- 
lated not only the rich to give of their abundance, but the poor 
to save out of their poverty something for those who are poorer 
than themselves. The apostolic age of liberal giving was 
restored by Wesley's spirit, and it was kept alive by Wesley's 
example. Wesley's benevolence flourishes again in the gifts of 
Peabody ; Wesley's faith shines anew in the institutions of 
Miiller. " The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof," 
was Wesley's sole plea and sole reliance whenever he needed 
the means to carry out the schemes which his liberal soul de- 
vised ; nor did he ever make that plea, or rely upon it, in vain. 
The journal of Wesley abundantly testifies to his labors, and 
their success, in behalf of the unfortunate. Charitable institu- 
tions, whether founded by himself, by his preachers, or by 
others, and the prison-houses of Great Britain and Ireland, 
were habitually visited in person wherever he went in his 
apostolic and itinerant journeyings through the three kingdoms ; 
and many were the charity sermons which he preached on their 
account. Now he visits his orphan house and his infirmary 

454 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

at Newcastle; now his and "Whitefield's colliers' school at 
Kingswood, and Miss Bosanquet's orphanage at Lytenstone; 
now his dispensary, poor-school, and widows' house at the 
Fonndery; now the poor-house in Glasgow, and the Gordon 
hospital in Aberdeen ; and now the widows' house at Dublin, 
the Charter School at Ballinrobe, and the House of Industry 
at Cork. Now he writes to Adam Clarke and now to John 
Gardner, approving their plans for the formation of Strangers' 
Friend Societies, and pledging to Gardner's three pence a week, 
and a guinea in advance. Now he preaches a charity sermon 
for the Sunday-school at "Wearmouth, and now for the Indian 
schools in America. Now he visits the French prisoners sent 
from Carrickfergus to Dublin, surprising them " at hearing as 
good French spoke in Dublin as they could have heard in Paris, 
and still more at being exhorted to heart-religion, to the ' faith 
that worketh by love.' " Now he takes up a collection for the 
French prisoners at Knowle, preaching from the text, " Thou 
shalt not oppress a stranger ; for ye know the heart of a stranger, 
seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt ; " and now lie 
visits them in prison, and, " in hopes of provoking others to 
jealousy," again takes up a collection to relieve their wretched 
condition. Now he proclaims the gospel of free grace to the 
hardened felons of Newgate, the clink of whose chains — and 
every other sound — is hushed the moment he announces his 
text : " There is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, 
more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no 
repentance." And now, " in their cells under ground," or " in 
their garrets," he visits the sick and " half -starved " prisoners 
of the Marshalsea, and asks, " If you saw these things with your 
own eyes, could you lay out money in ornaments or super- 

Many are the charitable institutions to which Methodism has 
given birth in almost all parts of the world. Among these we 
here mention one, not only because it illustrates the liberality 
and catholicity of the founder of Methodism, but because it 

Wesley's Liberality and Catholicity. 455 

enables us to print an address by Dean Stanley, in which these 
characteristics of John Wesley are candidly affirmed and 
strongly emphasized. The institution to which we refer is the 
Children's Home, in Bonner Road, London. For the account 
of this noble charity, which follows. I am indebted to Mr. G. 
Stevens, of the "Religious Tract Society," in Paternoster 
Eow. From his excellent article, " Orphan and Outcast," in 
the "Songs and Stories of the Children's Home," 1877, we 
quote as follows : — 

The Children's Home is the name borne by a group of buildings in 
the East of London, in Bonner Road, not far from Victoria Park, a popu- 
lous district too rarely explored by the wealthy citizens of the "West. 
It is both orphanage and refuge, but is the center of a much larger work, 
having some peculiarities which deserve attention. Like many other 
institutions, it owes its origin to one man ; for happily the doors of Chris- 
tian usefulness are open to all who will knock at them. In this work 
among the outcasts of our great cities it is remarkable how little has 
been done by organizations, and how much by the patient labors of indi- 
vidual men whom God has called to the task by special circumstances. 
Mr. Stephenson, the founder of this Home, was brought as a minister 
from country duties to reside in the midst of London, and seven years 
ago or more found himself in Lambeth, in the neighborhood of the no- 
torious New Cut. "I soon saw little children," he says, "in a condition 
that made my heart bleed. There they were, ragged, shoeless, filthy; 
their faces pinched with hunger, and premature wretchedness staring 
out of their too bright eyes ; and I began to feel that now my time was 
come. Here were my poor little brothers and sisters, sold to hunger 
and the devil, and I could not be free of their blood if I did not at least 
try to save some of them." Long before he had been brought to the con- 
viction that "the religion which does not fathom the social deeps, and 
heal the social sores, cannot be Christ's religion." The work done by 
Immanuel Wichern at the Rauhe Haus Refuge, and by Theodore Flied- 
ner, at the Kaiserswerth Institute, had especially interested him, and he 
had set himself to study the methods best adapted to English habits, in 
hope that some day he might be able to apply them. A few friends 
were first consulted, and a beginning made, by way of "private vent- 
ure." A house was taken that was little more than a cottage. "A 
stable at the back was made the dining-room and lavatory. The loft 

456 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

above became a dormitory, and the only play-ground was a patch some 
four yards square, with a gate-way, meant for the passage of a single 
cart. And this was workshop, too!" But here they contrived to re- 
ceive and shelter twenty poor lads. The work rapidly grew upon them, 
and in like proportion the means came in, so that week by week all 
debts were paid. A small committee was formed ; and a year had hardly 
passed when the adjoining house was taken, and the number of boys 
under care increased to thirty-seven. The more that was accomplished, 
the greater seemed the need ; the applications for admission were soon 
too numerous; children were being turned almost daily from the doors, 
and beyond them and around them was a great world of wretchedness 
all untouched. Another effort was made, and premises at length were 
found on the site of the present buildings, which were adapted to the 
purpose, and gradually fitted to the still growing work. 

The institution has since developed over a wider field ; it has now a 
Certified Industrial School associated near Gravesend; it has a 
Farm Branch, near Bolton, in Lancashire ; and it has a Reception Home 
in Canada. It has now four hundred and thirty-five children in resi- 
dence in these four branches ; and it has sent forth four hundred to earn 
their living by honest labor. Mr. Stephenson is a member of the 
London School Board ; he is widely known as a Wesleyan minister, 
and his special work, gradually demanding his almost exclusive atten- 
tion, could not but be recognized with thankfulness by his brethren in 
the ministry. The Children's Home has, therefore, been adopted as a 
Methodist institution ; it makes its annual report to the Wesleyan Meth- 
odist Conference, and Mr. Stephenson holds his place of right as Prin- 
cipal with the sanction of the connectional authorities ; but we believe it 
is the only Methodist institution so recognized, the committee of which 
is not wholly Methodist ; and the association with them of other expe- 
rienced laborers on the same ground, such as Mr. James Macgregor, is 
pledge that denominational ends are lost sight of in the single aim to 
rescue arrd elevate these neglected children. 

"We are gratified to learn that during the nine years the in- 
stitution mentioned above by Mr. Stevens has been in existence, 
it has helped more than a thousand children "to rise from 
neglect, and ignorance, and wretchedness, and become virtuous, 
honest, and religious." 

While on a visit to the Children's Home, September, 1878, 

Wesley's Libeeality and Catholicity. 457 

it was our pleasure to ask the Rev. T. Bowman Stephenson, 
M. A.., its gifted founder and head, to contribute Wesley the 
Philanthropist to the Wesley. Memorial Volume. His an- 
swer was, that, being already overworked, and tasked to the 
utmost of his time and strength, it would not be in his power 
to write the article required ; otherwise it would be his delight 
to contribute to such a work. This great-souled man, who, as 
a philanthropist, is following so closely in the footprints of 
John Wesley, was in perfect accord with the Memorial Volume 
itself and the Monumental Church in Savannah. To show his 
interest in the latter, he promised that the children of the 
Home should give to it the benefit of one or more of their mem- 
orable exhibitions. What more beautiful ! What a spectacle 
for men and angels ! how appropriate is it for children rescued 
from poverty and shame, and saved to virtue, honesty, and 
religion, to aid the building of a monument to the man who 
pleaded so earnestly the cause of the homeless waifs and 
orphans of his native land ! And to show his interest in the 
former, Mr. Stephenson, while reluctantly declining to write 
an article for it himself, pointed out how he might, as he 
thought, render a more important service. It so happened 
that Dean Stanley, a short time before, had delivered an 
address before the Children's Home, and had put the manu- 
script into his hands for publication. This address, which had 
not been published, Mr. Stephenson— the Dean approving — 
kindly offered to me for the Memorial Volume. The proposi- 
tion was accepted, because the address embraced not only the 
subject assigned to Mr. Stephenson, but another, on which I 
had requested the Dean to write. A short time before this 
interview with Mr. Stephenson I had asked Dean Stanley to 
give me not only his address on unveiling the Wesley monu- 
ment, in Westminster Abbey, but to contribute an article on 
Wesley's catholicity. In answer the Dean most courteously 
gave permission to use the address delivered in the Abbey, 
and said, if sufficient time were allowed, he could give me 

458 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

" "Wesley's Catholicity," also. Hence I gladly accepted the 
address pronounced before the Children's Home, a copy of 
which, printed for the Wesley Memorial Yolume, at the 
press of the Children's Home, in London, and revised and cor- 
rected by Dean Stanley himself, has been sent to me by Mr. 
Stephenson. Than the address given below, nothing more 
briefly and appropriately illustrates the liberality and catho- 
licity of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism : 

Address delivered at the opening of the New Chapel and Schools of the Chil- 
dren's Home, Bonner Road, London, by the Rev. Arthur Penrhyn Stan- 
ley, D.D., LL.D., Dean of Westminster. 

My Dear Friends: There are two peculiar characteristics of this 
meeting, which have been brought before you by your distinguished 
chairman, and which induce me to say a few words to you. 

First, there is the object for which this institution exists. It is the 
gathering of children out of the bad circumstances in which they are 
placed, and trying, by education, to form new characters within them. 
Now, if I were to put this into the language of the Bible, the attempt is 
to convert, redeem, regenerate them. 

But before I proceed, let me, for a moment, explain more exactly those 
words as applied to cases like this. 

To convert means to turn round the whole mind in a direction different 
from that in which it has been walking before. That is what is attempted 
with these children. They have been wandering to and fro, with no fixed 
object. Your object is to put them in the right way; to make them 
walk straight forward ; to give them a fixed purpose in life, and direct 
their aim. 

To redeem means to deliver from bondage. These children have been 
in the bondage of cruel circumstances, of bad homes, of bad company. 
Your object is to set them free from this bondage, and give them that 
liberty of becoming good to which every Englishman is entitled, but 
which can hardly be attained when all outward things are so much 
against it as has been the case with these children. 

To regenerate is to create a new disposition ; to give to the intellect 
and the heart a new moral birth. That, also, is what is attempted with 
these children ; the greatest of all tasks, even with the most favorable 
circumstances. How much more difficult under circumstances like theirs ! 

Wesley's Liberality and Catholicity. 459 

Now, the question which sometimes arises in our minds as we consider 
such attempts as this, or even as we consider any set of human beings, is 
this : — 

Is it possible to effect such a change in our character ? We know that 
a great many good and evil dispositions, a great many intellectual excel- 
lences and defects, are born in us. Can we change them, or, at any 
rate, if we cannot change them, can a new mind be born again within 
their precincts? Can the grooves of our pathway be enlarged and recti- 
fied? Can the bonds be broken ? I do not now speak of the mysterious 
workings of a higher power. With Him we know all things are passible ; 
without Him we may almost say all things are impossible. But can we 
trace in experience what are the means by which the divine Spirit guides 
us, and which we must lay hold of? You remember Oliver Cromwell's 
speech to his soldiers : " Trust in God, and keep your powder dry." 
What is the powder which we must keep dry and pure in order for it to 
explode when the spark comes ? 

Now here there are two or three reasons which ought, in the face of 
the greatest difficulties, to give us courage and hope. First, there is the 
chance of the change of circumstances, especially with such circum- 
stances as those with which we have to deal here. Imagine a child 
brought up in an atmosphere darkened with filth, loaded with impurity, 
bristling with curses, crowded with temptations. May we not say that 
in such an atmosphere his character must, by a dreadful necessity, take 
a shape and color from the circumstances around him ? Our sailors in 
the Arctic regions, when wrapped in six months' darkness, almost like 
the birds and beasts which in those parts become white as the surround- 
ing snows, lost their fresh and ruddy complexion, and became pale 
and bloodless, till the veil of darkness was lifted up, and the sun 
once more shone upon them. No doubt, in these dens and nurseries of 
vice it is possible that by a miracle of grace a little child may remain 
pure among the impure, gentle among the cruel, intelligent among the 
brutes. But what is far more common is, that they, and we, and all of 
us, like all those Arctic sailors, lose for a time the very life-blood of our 
souls. What we have to do is to change the circumstances; to change 
the air. What we have to pray is, that petition in the Lord's prayer, 
"Lead us not into temptation." To break the force of temptation, or, 
as a wise»scholar has said, to alter the unfavorable conditions against 
which no average human being can stand, is one chief object of Christian 
endeavor. And when these conditions are changed, then it is astonish- 
ing to see how the human spirit shoots upward, like a bird from a cage, 

460 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

like a plant to meet tlie sunlight. I myself have seen an example of a 
boy brought up in bad, lawless ways; fierce as a wild animal, ungovern- 
able as a savage ; yet in a few months, when these foul traditions had 
faded away, and he had been placed under kinder influences, it was as 
though a demon were cast out; he sat clothed, and clean, and in his 
right mind, destined, in all probability, to grow up a good and useful 

But, of course, it is not enough for the recovery of lost souls, or lost 
children, that they should merely be redeemed or delivered from evil- 
they must have a new influence for good brought to bear upon them; 
what Dr. Chalmers used to call ' ' the expulsive power of a new affec- 
tion." And this begins with the very first awakening of self-respect, by 
the thought that there is any one to care for us. 

It was a saying of one who afterward became a distinguished philoso- 
pher, Jeremy Bentham, that he owed every thing to the feeling excited 
in his own mind by the kindness of the late Lord Lansdowne: " He took 
me out of the bottomless pit of humiliation ; he made me feel that I was 
something." And when not only this feeling of self-respect is engen- 
dered, but new pursuits and new characters are placed before us, then 
also whatever there is good is drawn toward them, and the transforma- 
tion, the regeneration, of our characters begins indeed. Let me give 
you two examples of this from very different quarters. Not long ago I 
was traveling on the railroad, and was accosted by a stranger, who said, 
"I owe my whole fortune in life to your father." I asked, "How?" 
He replied, "I was a little boy in the small town near which he lived. 
He came over, years ago, at a time when such things were unusual for 
clergymen, and delivered a lecture on geology. I went there out of cu- 
riosity, a little boy, without shoes and stockings, and listened, and the 
lecturer stimulated me to think and to study, and I advanced from one 
place to another, until I became what you now see me, a member of a 
flourishing house in the same town where I received this new birth of 
my character, and from that day to this I have never ceased to revere the 
memory of the man to whom I owed so much.*' That is an example cf 
the moral effect of a new intellectual interest being kindled. And now 
let me give you another instance from a country far away, which shows 
how, under conditions of race and soil altogether different, still the same 
awakening impulse may be communicated. Three years ago I visited at 
Moscow a small establishment of boys somewhat like those who are in 
these schools, but from a lower and worse grade. It was supported and 
kept alive by the energy and example of a young Eussian merchant, 

Wesley's Libebality and Catholicity. 461 

who lived entirely with those boys, and who had converted them from 
their evil ways to be true-hearted, loyal, affectionate scholars. . Even now 
I seem to hear the hymn which they sang with their sweet, plaintive 
vo j ces — the prayer of the penitent thief, " Lord, remember me when 
thou comest into thy kingdom." That hymn I have never forgotten, 
nor have I forgotten the expression of the young merchant's countenance. 
He could speak no word of English, nothing but Russian, but his face 
told what he was; and when I left the place I could not help saying, 
that I had seen written upon it not only the ten commandments of Si- 
nai, but the eight beatitudes of the Galilean mount. 

You will see that we have come to the conclusion at which I was aim- 
ing, that it is possible to change the characters of little human creatures 
by taking them out of bad circumstances, by putting them under good 
influences, and that those good influences are chiefly such as come from 
the stimulating power of new thoughts, new interests, new examples. 

And this is the process by which Christianity itself has worked upon 
mankind ; by dispersing the foul atmosphere of the bad parts of pagan- 
ism ; by creating the good atmosphere of freedom, purity, and gentle- 
ness; by giving a new and upward direction to our thoughts; by giving 
us the holiest and brightest representation of what God is, and what 
men ought to be. * 

And when I ask whence it was that the spirit was derived which in 
our latter days has given birth to these schools, I answer, that it came 
from one man, who, with many failings and many weaknesses, is yet one 
of the finest examples of Christian culture that this country has produced 
— John Wesley. 

There are two particular aspects of these schools in which he would 
have delighted, and which may fairly claim his sanction. 

One is, that of which I have already spoken — the determination to re- 
claim and recover the lost. Many other virtues and many other graces 
the English nation and the English Church possessed in the times before 
John Wesley rose. But this mission was pre-eminently his own, and 
nobly he fulfilled it; and since that time it has been taken up within the 
Church and without the Church, with equal zeal throughout the country. 

Bethnal Green was at that time a suburban hamlet, and very different 
from the crowded town which it has since become. But there was al- 
ready much distress, and that cry of distress called John Wesley to the 
rescue. It is just one hundred years ago that he heard the cry and came 
among you here. "Many," he says in his journal of June 15, 1777, "I 
find in such poverty as few can conceive without seeing it. O, why do 

462 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

not all the rich that fear God constantly visit the poor ? Can they spend 
part of their spare time better ? Certainly not ; as they will find in that 
day when every man shall receive his reward according to his own la- 
bor." That was the first entrance of the spirit of Wesley into Bethnal 
Green; and well has it been carried out since in these schools. 

The second peculiarity of this institution is, that in the face of the 
great moral evils from which these children are rescued, it knows 
nothing of the divisions which separate English Christians; it knows 
only the good which unites us all. And in this again John "Wesley 
rose above not only his own age, but above ours also. What espe- 
cially distinguished him above the teachers of his time was, what he 
himself called the catholic, that is, the comprehensive spirit of relig- 
ion. "The whole world," he said, "will never be converted except 
by those of a truly catholic spirit." Then I find another entry in 
Wesley's journal of a visit to Bethnal Green. "I preached," he says 
on November 20, 1785, "in Bethnal Green Church, [the Church of my 
excellent friend the present rector, who no doubt would have wel- 
comed John Wesley as he welcomes this good object to-day,] and 
spoke as plainly as I possibly could on having a form of godliness, 
but denying the power thereof. And this I judged," he says, "far 
mt>re suitable to such a congregation than talking about justification 
by faith." He meant, no doubt, what he repeats again and again 
throughout his sermons, that even the most favorite expressions of 
our own particular opinions ought to be kept in comparative subor- 
dination to the great moral truths of Christianity, which we all hold 
in common. Toward the close of Wesley's long career he thus ex- 
pressed himself: "Near fifty years ago a great and good man, Dr. 
Potter, then Archbishop of Canterbury, gave me an advice for which 
I have ever since had occasion to bless God. 'If you desire to be ex- 
tensively useful, do not spend your time and strength in contending 
for or against such things as are of a disputable nature, but in testi- 
fying against open and notorious vice, and in promoting real spiritual 
holiness.'" "Let us keep," adds Wesley, "to this, leaving a thou- 
sand disputable points to those that have no better business than to 
toss the ball of controversy to and fro — let us keep close to our point. 
Let us bear a faithful testimony in our several stations against all 
ungodliness and unrighteousness, and with all our might recommend 
that inward and outward holiness without which no man shall see 
the Lord." He knew that it was not an easy task to make this his 
chief object. "I set out," he says, "near fifty years ago," (at the 

Wesley's Liberality and Catholicity. 463 

same time that he received the advice from Archbishop Potter,) "with 
this principle: 'Whosoever doeth the will of my Father which is in 
heaven, the same is my brother and sister and mother.' But there is 
no one living that has been more abused for his pains, even to this 
day; but it is all well, and by the grace of God I shall go on." 

Let us follow the advice of " that great and good man, Dr. Potter, 
Archbishop of Canterbury," and that still greater and better man, John 
Wesley, and it will be all well with us, and by the grace of God we shall 
go on to the end. . 


THE lyrical literature of Methodism is pre-eminent both for 
its character and its extent. It was a necessary condition 
of the evangelical reformation of the eighteenth century that an 
improved psalmody should be provided. Sternhold and Hop- 
kins, though not entirely obnoxious to Wesley's charge against 
them of "miserable, scandalous doggerel," were unsuited to 
both the intellectual and moral advancement which the new 
religious movement was to introduce ; and Tate and Brady 
were so extremely deficient in these respects, that in com- 
parison with them Sternhold and Hopkins have been called 
David and Asaph. The necessary psalmody was not only pro- 
vided as a result of the new movement, but was begun even in 
anticipation of it. The Wesleys published their first Hymn 
Book as early as 1738,* the year in which they date their re- 
generated life ; and the next year — recognized as the epoch of 
Methodism — was signalized by the appearance of their " Hymns 
and Sacred Poems," two editions of which appeared before its 
close. And now rapidly followed, year after year, sometimes 
twice a year, not only new editions of these volumes, but new 
poetic works, which were scattered more extensively than any 
other of their publications through England, Wales, Ireland, 
the British West Indies, the North American provinces, and 
the United States, till not less than forty-nine poetical publica- 
tions were enumerated among their literary works ; and before 
Wesley's death a common psalmody, sung mostly to a common 
music, resounded through all the Methodist chapels of the En- 
glish and American world. The achievement accomplished by 

* The Savannah Hymn Book was published at Charles-town in 1T3Y. — Editor. 

The Wesleyan Lyeic Poetey. 465 

Methodism in this respect is alone one of the most extraor- 
dinary historical facts of the last century. Its influence on 
the popular taste, intellectual as well as moral, could not fail to 
be incalculably great. So thorough has been the subsequent 
revolution in the popular appreciation of sacred poetry, that 
much of the psalmody sung in the churches of England at the 
advent of Methodism would not now be tolerated. Its effect, 
in many instances, would be even ludicrous. 

"Watts deserves the credit of leading the way in this impor- 
tant reform. The first poetical publication of the Wesleys was 
largely made up of his hymns, but Charles Wesley soon became 
his rival in popular estimation. The Wesleys soon towered 
above all their predecessors and contemporaries in this depart- 
ment of literature, and no later writer of hymns can dispute 
their common superiority. Their example, and the new relig- 
ious wants of the times, prompted the emulation or genius of 
many able but inferior writers,* most of them directly or in- 
directly under the Methodistic influence, and the hymns of 
Doddridge, Toplady, Newton, Cowper, Cennick, Steele, and 
Beddome rapidly appeared and promoted the lyrical reform. 
The comparative claims of Watts and Charles Wesley are yet 
undetermined, but their common pre-eminence is undisputed. 
The verdict of literary criticism has generally been in favor of 
Watts ; but Charles Wesley has suffered from the undeserved 
prejudice of the literary world against Methodism — a prejudice 
now fast giving way. In proportion as it has subsided has 
his extraordinary genius come to be recognized ; and it has be- 
come probable that sooner or later he will be pronounced the 
equal, if not the superior, of his great contemporary. Watts 
himself acknowledged that he would give all he had written 
for the credit of being the author of Charles Wesley's unri- 
valed hymn, entitled " Wrestling Jacob." 

Every important doctrine of Holy Scripture, every degree 

* This remark does not detract from Cowper's poetical excellence in other re- 
spects. Milton, it has been said, composed but one good psalm. 

466 The "Wesley Memokial Volume. 

of spiritual experience, almost every shade of religious thought 
and feeling, and nearly every ordinary relation and incident 
of human life, are treated in Charles "Wesley's abundant and 
ever-varying verse. No poet surpasses him in the variety oft 
his themes. Rarely can any man open his volumes without 
finding something apposite to his own moods or wants. 

The whole soul of Charles Wesley was imbued with poetic 
genius. His thoughts seemed to bask and revel in melody 
and rhythm. The variety of his meters (said to be unequaled 
by any English writer whatever) shows how impulsive were 
his poetic emotions, and how wonderful his facility in their 
spontaneous and varied utterance. In the Wesleyan hymn 
book alone they amount to at least twenty-six, and others are 
found in his other productions. They march, at times, like 
lengthened processions with solemn grandeur ; they sweep at 
other times like chariots of fire through the heavens ; they are 
broken like the sobs of grief at the graveside, play like the joy- 
ful affections of childhood at the hearth, or shout like victors 
in the fray of the battle-field. No man ever surpassed Charles 
Wesley in the harmonies of language. To him it was a dia- 

He never seems to labor in his poetic compositions. The 
reader feels that they were necessary utterances of a heart 
palpitating with emotion and music. No words seem to be 
put in for effect ; but effective phrases, brief, surprising, inca- 
pable of improvement, are continually and spontaneously oc- 
curring, " like lightning," says Montgomery, " revealing for 
a moment the whole hemisphere." His language is never tu- 
mid ; the most and the least cultivated minds appreciate him 
with surprised delight ; his metaphors, abundant and vivid, are 
seldom far-fetched or strained ; his rhymes seldom or never 
constrained. His style is throughout severely pure. 

The biographer of Watts acknowledges " the faulty versifi- 
cation and inelegant construction of some of his hymns, which 
have been pointed out as their principal defects," but adds, 

The Wesleyan Lyeic Poetry. 467 

" they would have never occurred had they been written under 
the same circumstances as those of his Arminian successor." * 
The difference of " circumstances " may account for the fact, 
but does not cancel it. He contends for the superiority of 
Watts, but admits the talent of Wesley. " In estimating," he 
says, " the merits of these two great hymnists — the greatest, 
unquestionably, that our country can boast— I should not hesi- 
tate to ascribe to the former greater skill in design, to the 
latter in execution ; to the former more originality, to the 
latter more polish. Many of Wesley's flights are bold, daring, 
and magnificent." " Originality " and " skill in design " are 
among Charles Wesley's most peculiar excellences. A critic, 
whose theological predilections are all in favor of Watts, re- 
marks : " The opening couplets of his hymns and psalms often 
give brilliant promises ; they seem to be the preludes of fault- 
less lyrics — outbursts of genuine song, which need only to be 
sustained to be without superiors in uninspired verse. But 
often they are not sustained. They are followed by stanzas 
which doom them in every pulpit." f The wings of Charles 
Wesley's muse seldom or never droop in her flight. 

Through most of his life the poet of Methodism incessantly sur- 
prised its Societies by the appearance of new poetical publica- 
tions. Besides his hymns for Sunday public worship, special 
" Hymns for the Watch-nights," " Hymns on the Lord's Supper," 
" Hymns for the Nativity of Our Lord," " Hymns for our Lord's 
Eesurrection," " Hymns for the Ascension," " Gloria Patria, or 
Hymns to the Trinity," " Hymns for Public Thanksgiving," 
"Hymns occasioned by the Earthquake," in 1750, "Hymns for 
Times of Trouble and Persecution," in 1756, " Hymns for the 
expected Invasion," in 1756, " Hymns for Methodist Preach- 
ers," in 1758, "Hymns for Kew-year's Day," "Hymns for 

* Miner's Life of Watts. Creamer makes it appear probable that Milner was 
ignorant of the " far greater mass " of Wesley's hymns. Impartial critics will at 
least agree that Milner has mistaken the chief traits of Wesley's genius. 

f Bibliotheca Sacra, January, 1859, art. "Hymnology." 

468 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

the Use of Families," " Hymns for Children," etc., " Funeral 
Hymns," " Hymns written in the Times of the Tumults," in 
1780, " Hymns for the Nation," in 1782, and, last of all his pub- 
lications, poetic " Prayers for Condemned Malefactors," in 1785 
— but three years before he ceased at once to sing and live — 
kept the Methodist community, and the popular mind generally, 
more or less astir by the rapturous strains of his lyre. Many 
of them related to contemporaneous events, which could not 
fail to give them special interest and influence. His funeral 
hymns, unrivaled by any similar poetry, were sung along the 
highways as the dead were borne to their graves. His " Hymns 
for Families " are admired by some of his critics as the best ex- 
amples of his genius. They are, at least, the best exhibition of 
his own pure and genial heart, as many of their themes were 
drawn from incidents of his domestic life. They consist of 
pieces, " For a Woman in Travail," " Thanksgiving for her 
Safe Delivery," " At the Baptism of a Child," " At sending a 
Child to Boarding-school," " Thanksgiving after a Recovery 
from the Small-pox," " Oblation of a Sick Friend," " Prayers for 
a Sick Child," " A Father's Prayer for his Son," " The Collier's 
Hymn," " For a Persecuting Husband," " For an Unconverted 
Wife," "For Unconverted Relations," "For a Family in 
"Want," " To be sung at the Tea-table," •" For one retired into 
the Country," " A Wedding Song." This volume contains also 
many other hymns for parents and children, masters and serv- 
ants, for domestic bereavements, for the Sabbath, for sleep, for 
going to work, for morning and evening. 

In the Wesleyan Hymn Book are six hundred and twenty- 
seven hymns by Charles Wesley ; but these are not one tenth 
of his poetical compositions. About four thousand six hun- 
dred have been printed, and about two thousand still remain 
in manuscript. In the space of twenty-two years he revised 
his publications eight times ; but the almost perfect literary 
finish of his hymns, as contained in the Wesleyan Collection, 
is, to no small extent, the effect of his brother's revision. 

The "Wesley an Lyric Poetet. 469 

John Wesley was rigorously severe in his criticisms, and ap- 
peared to be conscious that the psalmody of Methodism was to 
be one of its chief providential facts — at once its liturgy and 
psalter to millions. Throughout his life, therefore, he fre- 
quently returned to the task of its laborious revision. He en- 
riched it himself with some fine original contributions, and 
with about twenty-four translations from the German. He 
has not only given the latter better versions than they have 
received from any other hand, but has excelled the originals. 
The biographer of Watts regrets that no sufficiently able hand 
has remedied the defects of his style and versification. He 
would, doubtless, compare better with Charles Wesley in these 
respects had he possessed so skillful a corrector as the latter 
found in his brother.* The Methodist psalmody was, in fine, 
the life-long labor of both the Wesleys, and is one of the 
noblest monuments of the religious movement of the eighteenth 
century. The spirit of that great evangelical revolution is em- 
bodied forever in the poetry of Charles Wesley. Nothing else 
of human origin, not even the sermons of John Wesley, more 
fully expresses the very essence of Methodism. A competent 
judge has said : " These very hymns, if the writer had not been 
connected with Methodism, would have shown a very different 
phase ; for while the depth and richness of them are the writ- 
er's, the epigrammatic intensity, and the pressure which marks 
them, belongs to Methodism. They may be regarded as the 
representatives of a modern devotional style which has pre- 
vailed quite as much beyond the boundaries of the Wesleyan 
community as within it. Charles Wesley's hymns on the one 
hand, and those of Toplady, Cowper, and ISTewton on the other, 

* Wesley's occasional emendations of Watts are striking examples of his own 
poetic skill The grand hymn, "Before Jehovah's awful throne," is an instance. 

" Nations attend before his throne 
With solemn fear, with sacred joy." — Watti. 

" Before Jehovah's awful throne, 

Ye nations bow with sacred joy." — Wesley. 

470 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

mark that great change in religious sentiment which distin- 
guishes the times of Methodism from the staid, Nonconforming 
era of Watts and Doddridge." * His hymns are of such pure 
and idomatic English that their style can never become obso- 
lete, unless our language shall become thoroughly corrupt ; 
their sentiments are so genuine, not only to Christianity but 
humanity, that they can never cease to command the response 
of the common human heart. His services to Methodism in 
this respect can never be over-estimated. A half century 
since, the Methodist hymns were sold at the rate of sixty thou- 
sand volumes annually in England ; they have been issued at 
an immensely larger rate in America. Their triumphant mel- 
odies swell farther and farther over the world every year, and 
their influence, moral and intellectual, is beyond all calculation. 

While they have been of inestimable service as exponents of 
Methodist theology and piety, they have also served to correct 
that tendency to doggerel verse which is so frequent among the 
common people in seasons of strong religious excitement. 
Methodism has had often to resist this tendency ; it has been 
able to do so chiefly by the power of its hymns ; they are so 
varied, so vivid, and so simple, that they hardly leave a motive 
for the use of any other lyric compositions. Justly does John 
Wesley say, in his preface to the " Collection for the Use of 
the People called Methodists," that " in these hymns there are 
no doggerel, no botches, nothing put in to patch up the rhyme, 
no feeble expletives. Here is nothing turgid or bombastic on 
the one hand, or low and creeping on the other. Here are no 
cant expressions, no words without meaning. Here are (allow 
me to say) both the purity, the strength, and the elegance of 
the English language ; and, at the same time, the utmost sim- 
plicity and plainness, suited to every capacity." 

While giving the masses divdne songs, Wesley also endeavored 
to make them sing. He was continually urging his preachers 
to set the example, and not only exhort the people to follow it, 

* Isaac Taylor, " Wesley and Methodism." 

The Wesley an Lyeic Poetky. 471 

but to induce them to learn the science of music. " Preach 
frequently on singing," he said, in the Minutes of the Con- 
ference ; " suit the tune to the words ; " " do not suffer the peo- 
ple to sing too slow ; " " let the women sing their parts alone ; 
let no man sing with them unless he understands the notes, 
and sings the bass ; " " exhort every one in the congregation to 
sing ; in every large society let them learn to sing ; recommend 
our Tune Book every-where." As early as 1742 he issued "A 
Collection of Tunes set to Music, as sung at the Foundery." 
He published a small work on " The Grounds of Yocal Music." 
Three other publications followed these, at intervals, on " Sa- 
cred Harmony," adapted to " the voice, harpsichord, and or- 
gan," for he was not opposed to instrumental music in divine 
worship ; though, for the prevention of disputes in the Socie- 
ties, he directed them to set up "no organ anywhere till pro- 
posed in the Conference." It was not long before he could 
justly boast of the superiority of the Methodist singing over 
that of the Churches of the Establishment : " Their solemn 
addresses to God," he says, " are not interrupted either by the 
formal drawl of a parish clerk, the screaming of boys, who 
bawl out what they neither feel nor understand, or the unsea- 
sonable and unmeaning impertinence of a voluntary on the 
organ. "When it is seasonable to sing praise to God, they do it 
with the spirit and the understanding also ; not in the miserable, 
scandalous doggerel of Sternhold and Hopkins, but in psalms 
and hymns which are both sense and poetry, such as would 
sooner provoke a critic to turn Christian than a Christian to 
turn critic. What they sing is, therefore, a proper continua- 
tion of the spiritual and reasonable service ; being selected for 
that end, not by a poor humdrum wretch who can scarcely read 
what he drones out with such an air of importance, but by one 
who knows what he is about ; not by a handful of wild, una- 
wakened striplings, but by a whole serious congregation ; and 
these not lolling at ease, or in the indecent posture of sitting, 

drawling out one word after another ; but all standing before 

472 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

God, and praising him lustily, and with a good courage." The 
Methodist hymn music early took a high form of emotional 
expression. It could not be otherwise with a community con- 
tinually stirred by religious excitement ; it was also a necessity 
of the rapturous poetry of Charles Wesley, for tame or com- 
monplace tunes would be absurd with it. Handel found in 
the Methodist hymns a poetry worthy of his own grand genius, 
and he set to music those beginning " Sinners, obey the gospel 
word ! " " O Love divine, how sweet thou art ! " " Rejoice ! 
the Lord is King." 


ABEL STEVEN'S, in this volume, has alluded to what Wes- 
ley did for Church music. His influence upon it was 
only inferior to his influence upon hymnology. So great was 
it, Stevens writes, that Wesley soon could justly boast of the 
superiority of Methodist singing over that of the Establish- 
ment. Wesleyan hymns were set to music by Handel, and by 
other great masters of the tuneful art. Among those who gave 
expression to them in music were Samuel, the youngest son of 
Charles Wesley — the great lyric poet of Methodism — and at 
a more recent date Samuel Sebastian, a son of the former and 
a grandson of the latter. Both of these were eminent musical 
doctors and musicians to the English Court. 

In the Wesleyan " Collection of Hymns," — in the " Edition 
with Tunes," — are a number of tunes by this father and 
son. There Charles's hymn, "And let our bodies part," 
is sung to the tune " Chichester," composed by his son, 
Dr. Samuel Wesley ; and there his hymn, " Come, O Thou 
Traveler unknown," is sung to the tune " Wrestling Jacob," 
composed by his grandson, the late Dr. Samuel Sebastian 

But it is not our purpose to write an essay on Methodist 
hymn music. We have written what we have solely to intro- 
duce the letter and the tunes and hymns which follow. The 
letter was written by Miss Eliza Wesley, of London — herself 
an eminent music teacher — to the Editor of The Wesley 
Memorial Volume, in compliance with his request to furnish 
for it several tunes composed by her distinguished father, and 
by her equally distinguished brother. The tunes "Bristol" 

474 The Wesley Memoetal Volume. 

and " Bach " are by her father. The former, Miss "Wesley has 
accompanied with the hymn, " Thou, to whose all-searching 
sight," translated from the German of Count Zinzendorf* by 
her great uncle while he was a missionary in Georgia; the 
latter, she has accommodated to one of her grandfather's 
hymns for watchnight, beginning, " Thou Judge of quick and 
dead." The tune "Celestia" is by her late gifted brother. 
The letter and the tunes are as follows : 

62 Liverpool Road, Islington, June 2, 1879. 

Mi Deak Sie : — 

Our good friend Mr. Stevenson conveyed to me your 
kind letter. I have had sincere pleasure in complying 
with your request, and thank you for affording me the oppor- 
tunity of contributing to so interesting a work. You are, 
I hope, already in possession of two tunes, "Bristol" and 
" Bach." To the tune " Bristol " I would suggest the words 
of hymn, " O Thou to whose all-searching sight ; " to the 
tune " Bach," " Thou Judge of quick and dead." Should you 
prefer any other words, pray feel at liberty to exchange them ; 
both tunes require solemn words. The tune I now forward, 
by my late brother, is a cheerful melody, but I cannot find an 
appropriate meter, and have requested Mr. Stevenson's kind 

With best wishes for the success of your work, 

I remain, dear sir, yours most truly, 

Eliza "Wesley. 
To Eev. J. O. A. Clark, LL.D. 

* Mr. George J. Stevenson, M.A., in his " Methodist Hymn Book and its Asso- 
ciations," ascribes this hymn to Count Zinzendorf ; in the " Hymnal " of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church it is ascribed to Gerhard Terst'eegen ; in " Wesley's 
Hymns and New Supplement," the Wesleyan "Edition with Tunes," and in the 
"Collection of Hymns," etc., of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, it is 
simply said to be " from the German, translated by J. Wesley," the name of the 
German poet not being given. — Editor. 

Wesleyan Hymn Music. 



Samuel Wesley, Mua. Doc. 




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whose all search ing . sight The dark - ness 



















t -r- -r- 

as the light, Search, prove my heart, it 


pants for 











burst these bonds, and set. 




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Wash out its stains, refine its dross, 
Nail my affections to the cross ; 
Hallow each thought ; let all within 
Be clean, as thou, my Lord, art clean. 

If in this darksome wild I stray, 

Be thou my light, be thou my way : 

No foes, no violence I fear, 

No fraud, while thou, my God, art near. 

When rising floods my soul o'erflow, 
When sinks my heart in waves of woe, 
Jesus, thy timely aid impart, 
And raise my head, and cheer my heart. 

Saviour, where'er thy steps I see, 
Dauntless, untired, I follow thee ; 
let thy hand support me still, 
And lead me to thy holy hill. 

If rough and thorny be the way, 
My strength proportion to my day; 
Till toil, and grief, and pain shall cease, 
Where all is calm, and joy, and peace. 

John Wesley. 


The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

bach. S.M. 

This time it not published. Copied from the original MS. by Miss Eliza Wesley. 

Samuel Wesley. 





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Thou Judge of quick and dead, 

Be - fore whose bar 


se - vere, "With 





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guilt y dread, "We all 



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Our cautioned souls prepare 

For that tremendous day, 
And fill us now with watchful care", 

And stir us up to pray : 

To pray, and wait the hour, 

That awful hour unknown, 
When, robed in majesty and power, 

Thou shalt from heaven come down, 
The immortal Son of man, 

To judge the human race, 
"With all thy Father's dazzling train, 

With all thy glorious grace. 

To damp our earthly joys, 

To' increase our gracious fears, 
Forever let the archangel's voice 

Be sounding in our ears : 
The solemn midnight cry, — 

Ye dead, the Judge is come ; 
Arise, and meet him in the sky, 

And meet your instant doom. 

may we all be found 

Obedient to thy word, 
Attentive to the trumpet's sound, 

And looking for our Lord. 
may we thus insure 

A lot among the blest ; 
And watch a moment to secure 

An everlasting rest. 

Charles Wesley. 

Wesleyan Hymn Music. 


Tune, "CELESTIA." 11, 10, 11, 10, 9, 11. 

By the late 8. 8. Weslky, Mus. Doc. 



Copied and presented by Miss Eliza Wbsley to The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

t — 1 1-— — 1 ! 1 fc-J — J-n-^l— ■ 4- 

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Hark, hark, my soul! an- gel-ic songs are swelling O'er earth's green fields, and 












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ocean's wave-beat shore : How sweet the truth those blessed strains are tell - ing 


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Of that new life when sin shall be no more! An -gels of Je sus, 


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an - gels of light, Sing - ing to wel - come the pilgrims of 

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the night. 





:| 1 E 

-r — r 

Onward we go, for still we hear them singing, 
" Come, weary souls, for Jesus bids you come ; " 

And through the dark, its echoes sweetly ringing, 
The music of the gospel leads us home. 

Angels of Jesus, etc. 

Far, far away, like bells at evening pealing, 
The voice of Jesus sounds o'er land and sea, 

And laden souls by thousands, meekly stealing, 
Kind Shepherd, turn their weary steps to thee. 

Angels of Jesus, etc. 

Rest comes at length, though life be long and dreary ; 

The day must dawn, and darksome night be past ; 
All journeys end in welcome to the weary, 

And heaven, the heart's true home, will come at last. 
Angels of Jesus, etc. 

Angels, sing on ! your faithful watches keeping ; 

Sing us sweet fragments of the songs above ; 
Till morning's joy shall end the night of weeping, 

And life's long shadows break in cloudless love. 
Angela of Jesus, etc. 


The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 



8. 8. 'Wesley, Mus. Doc. 






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Come, O thou Trav - el er" 





unknown, Whom still I hold, but cannot see ; 

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"With thee all night I mean to stay, And wrestle till the break of day. 

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I need not tell thee who I am, 

My sin and misery declare ; 
Thyself hast called me by my name, 

Look on thy hands, and read it there : 
But who, I ask thee, who art thou ? 
Tell me thy name, and tell me now. 

In vain thou strugglest to get free, 
I never will unloose my hold: 

Art thou the Man that died for me ? 
The secret of thy love unfold : 

Wrestling, I will not let thee go, 

Till I thy name, thy nature know. 

"Wilt thou not yet to me reveal 
Thy new, unutterable name ? 

Tell me, I still beseech thee, tell ; 
To know it now resolved I am : 

Wrestling, I will not let thee go, 

Till I thy name, thy nature know. 

WESLETAisr Hymn Music. 479 

What though my shrinking flesh complain, 

And murmur to contend so long ? 
I rise superior to my pain ; 

When I am weak, then I am strong : 
And when my all of strength shall fail, 
I shall with the God-man prevail. 

Yield to me now, for I am weak, 

But confident in self -despair; 
Speak to my heart, in blessing speak, 

Be conquered by my instant prayer : 
Speak, or thou never hence shalt move, 
And tell me if thy name be Love. 

"Tis Love ! 'tis Love 1 thou diedst for me I 

I hear thy whisper in my heart ; 
The morning breaks, the shadows flee ; 

Pure, universal love thou art : 
To me, to all, thy bowels move ; 
Thy nature and thy name is Love. 

My prayer hath power with God ; the grace 

Unspeakable I now receive ; 
Through faith I see thee face to face, 

I see thee face to face, and live ! 
In vain I have not wept and strove ; 
Thy nature and thy name is Love. 

I know thee, Saviour, who thou art, 

Jesus, the feeble sinner's Friend ; 
Nor wilt thou with the night depart, 

But stay and love me to the end : 
Thy mercies never shall remove ; 
Thy nature and thy name is Love. 

The Sun of righteousness on me 

Hath rose with healing in his wings : 
Withered my nature's strength ; from thee 

My soul its life and succor brings : 
My help is all laid up above ; 
Thy nature and thy name is Love. 

480 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

Contented now, upon my thigh 
I halt, till life's short journey end ; 

All helplessness, all weakness, I 
On thee alone for strength depend, 

Nor have I power from thee to move ; 

Thy nature and thy name is Love. 

Lame as I am, I take the prey ; 

Hell, earth, and sin, with ease o'ercome ; 
I leap for joy, pursue my way, 

And as a bounding hart fly home, 
Through all eternity to prove 
Thy nature and thy name is Love. 


WESLEY had, ''rom among the clergy of the Established 
Church, two ardent and most efficient co-laborers, the 
saintly John Fletcher and the untiring Thomas Coke. The 
former, from the year 1757 to the time of his death, was Wes- 
ley's confidential friend and counselor, the champion of his theo- 
logical views, and an example of holiness never excelled. About 
twenty years after Fletcher's adhesion to "Wesley, toward the 
close of his illustrious career, Coke became the most active and 
useful of his fellow-laborers. Wesley used to call him his 
" right hand." In 1777 he united himself to Wesley, attended 
the Conference, and was stationed the following year in 
London, where he had a very cordial reception, preached to 
large congregations, and had many seals to his ministry. 

Thomas Coke was born at Brecon, Wales, in 1747 ; became 
a gentleman commoner of Jesus College, Oxford, and a year 
after took orders in the Established Church. He received the 
degree of Doctor of Civil Laws in 1775. The curacy of South 
Petherton, Somersetshire, offered itself and was embraced ; and 
was the field of his clerical ministrations for a few years. 
But having meanwhile been brought into clearer views and a 
deeper experience of the spiritual life, his preaching became 
more earnest. Presently he was charged with being a Meth- 
odist on account of his uncommon zeal. It was not long be- 
fore he was excluded, on the ground of his Methodistic procliv- 
ities, from pulpit and parish. This led him, on further 
inquiry and after a personal acquaintance with Wesley, to 
tender his services to him, and join in the great evangelizing 
movement Wesley was carrying forward. Into this move- 
ment Coke threw the fervid zeal and unwearying activities of 

482 The "Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

his Welsh temperament. In 1782 he was appointed to hold 
the first session of the Irish Conference ; and from that time 
he almost invariably presided in that Conference, filling the 
chair with honor and usefulness for nearly thirty years. 

Dr. Coke rendered very valuable services to "Wesley in the 
two measures which gave supreme importance to the English 
Conference of 1784. The first was the procurement of the 
enrollment in the High Court of Chancery of the " Deed of 
Declaration," which defined and gave legal existence to the 
Methodist Conference. By this measure consistency and per- 
manence were given to Methodism in Britain. Dr. Coke 
procured the legal advice according to which the Deed was 
determined upon ; and drew up, with legal assistance, the 
instrument, without which the Methodist Societies, after the 
death of Wesley, would have inevitably fallen into the condi- 
tion of separate and rival religious communities, and speedily 
gone into decay. It is very probable that Dr. Coke suggested 
the whole arrangement. 

The other measure determined on at the Conference of 1784 
was the consolidation of the American Methodist Societies into 
the state of a regular, independent Church. The historian of 
Wesleyan Methodism says : " There is scarcely any action 
which occurred in the long and eventful life of the founder 
of Methodism of more intrinsic importance than that which 
effected this great object ; and perhaps not one which has been 
more fiercely and foully censured. If Wesley had accom- 

plished nothing in the whole course of his laborious and ex- 
tended life but the organization and consolidation of Method- 
ism in America, he would be entitled to the highest regards as 
the apostle of modern times." In America the Methodist 
Societies had all along been in connection with Wesley. They 
had been considered quasi-members of the English Church, 
obtaining, on occasion, the privileges of the sacraments at the 
hands of the parish clergymen. But at the close of the War of 
the Bevolution the United States were irrevocably separated 

"Wesley and Coke. 483 

from the mother country ; the Episcopalian Establishment was 
dissolved ; and the control of the Bishop of London ceased in 
this country. 

Under these circumstances an urgent appeal was sent to 
Wesley from Francis Asbury, who was the principal preacher 
among the Methodists in the new Republic, entreating him to 
provide some mode of church government which would meet 
the urgency of the case. Wesley had been revolving this 
important matter in his own mind. He had counseled with 
Fletcher, Coke, and others at this Leeds Conference, in 1784 ; 
and it was agreed that it was highly important to have some 
one sent immediately to America, so that the sacraments might 
be "duly administered in the Societies, and a permanent polity 
be settled. In point of fact, the moment had come when 
Wesley must settle the question whether he, as the founder, 
was ready to take the responsibility which the " exigence of 
necessity" had plainly put upon him. It was one of those 
critical momenta which form epochs in the history of Chris- 
tianity. Wesley was equal to the occasion. He braved the 
obloquy which he well knew his course would in some direc- 
tions incur. His noble spirit decided in favor of a magnan- 
imous policy. He gave to American Methodism his own ideal 
of a Church. He established for it, as we believe, a complete and 
independent church system, with the episcopal office and order. 

Wesley's views had, indeed, been long settled as to the 
jure dwino theory of apostolical succession. As far back as 
the fourth conference, held in 1747, there had been a discussion 
on Church polity, the result of which was set forth in the fol- 
lowing questions and answers : — 

Ques. Are the three orders of bishops, priests, and deacons, 
plainly described in the New Testament ? 

Am. We think they are, and believe they generally ob- 
tained in the Church of the apostolic age. 

Ques. But are you assured that God designed the same plan 
should obtain in all other Churches, throughout all ages ? 

484 The Wesley Memoeial Volume. 

Ans. We are not assured of it, because we do not know that 
it is asserted in Holy "Writ. 

Ques. If the plan were essential to a Christian Church, 
what must become of all foreign Reformed Churches ? 

Ans. It would follow, they are no part of the Church of 
Christ, a consequence full of shocking absurdity. 

Ques. In about what age was the divine right of episcopacy 
first asserted in England ? 

Ans. About the middle of Queen Elizabeth's reign. Till 
then all the bishops and clergy in England continually allowed 
and joined in the ministrations of those who were not epis- 
copally ordained. 

Ques. Must there not be numberless accidental variations in 
the government of various Churches ? 

Ans. These must be, in the nature of things. As God 
variously dispenses his gifts of nature, providence, and grace, 
both the offices themselves and the officers in each ought to 
be varied from time to time. 

This shows clearly that "Wesley had, even at that early 
period of his career, formed the convictions which governed his 
subsequent course. There being no particular form of admin- 
istration made binding by divine prescription in Church gov- 
ernment, the application of a few great and inviolable princi- 
ples is left to the godly discretion of those who, in the order of 
the divine administration, might be called on to act in certain 
emergencies. In point of fact Wesley, in a sketch of the Origin 
of Church Government, drawn lip about that time, refers to 
himself as the father and bishop of the whole of the Method- 
ist Societies, and compares his "assistants" to the ancient 
" presbyters," and his " helpers " to the ancient " deacons." 
He professed himself convinced that the three ministerial 
orders of bishops, elders, and deacons were "reasonable and 
useful as human-ecclesiastical arrangements," though he denied 
that they were obligatory by divine law and institution. 

These views and principles are clearly and strikingly formu- 

Wesley and Coke. 485 

lated by the learned and accomplished Dr. Summers, editor of 
the " Quarterly Keview of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 

The eldership is by scriptural precedent, and by the natural course of 
things as embodying the mass of the mature ministry, the main body 
and trunk of the ministerial strength and power. As such it is naturally 
and crudely the undeveloped one order. Just as, naturally and by sacred 
precedent and expediency, it reserves the diaconate order as its prepara- 
tory pupilage, so it flowers up into the episcopacy as its concentrated 
representative order. Fundamentally, there may thus be one order ; sub- 
sidiarily a second order ; and derivatively, yet superior in function, a 
third order. The ordership and organic permanence is constituted in all 
three cases, according to sacred precedent, by ordination. The highest 
of the three orders is especially, as it happens, perpetuated by a series of 
ordaining hands, passing from predecessor to successor, bishop authen- 
ticating bishop, as elder does not authenticate elder, or deacon, deacon. 
Hence, though as derivative it is in origin less an order, and an inferior 
order, yet, as constituted, it becomes more distinctively an order than 
either of the other two. The New Testament furnishes, indeed, no 
decisive precedent of an ordained and permanently fixed superpresby- 
terial order ; but it does furnish classes and instances of men exercising 
superpresbyterial authority ; so that pure and perfect parity of office is 
not divinely enjoined. Such classes and cases are the apostles, perhaps 
the evangelists St. James of Jerusalem, and Timothy and Titus. Wes- 
ley held that the episcopate and eldership were so one order that the 
power constituting an episcopal order inhered in the eldership ; but he 
did not believe that there lay in the eldership a right to exercise that 
power without a true providential and divine call. Hence, in his epis- 
copal diploma given to Coke he announces, " I, John Wesley, think my- 
self providentially called at this time to set apart some persons for 
the work of the ministry in America," etc. 

God chooses his agents for the carrying out of his great rule 
to bless man by man. He authenticates their mission by gifts, 
spiritual power, and sway over the hearts of men. "Wesley be- 
came the instrument in the divine hand of a new development 
of Christianity. His position, to use the expression of Dr. 
James Dixon, "made him necessarily the patriarch and gov- 
ernor of his people every-where." In organization and admin- 

486 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

istrative skill no general, statesman, or churchman ever ex- 
celled him; and as to the silent energy of personal influence, 
he has never been surpassed by any one known to history. 
This man stood at the point whence " a new beginning of reg- 
imen " was to start. Providence placed before him the oppor- 
tunity to establish a church system which was to carry the 
Wesleyan proclamation of the gospel not only over the breadth 
of a continent within the first century of its operations, but to 
Asia, and Africa, and the palm-girt islands of far-off seas. In 
God's name let him go forward and set apart, by the imposition 
of hands, the elders and the missionary bishop for this great 
work ! That ordination, if Heaven deign to own it, shall, in the 
name of religion, humanity, and reason, settle the question be- 
tween mediaeval church theory, with its formal and ritual 
episcopacy and papal yoke on the one hand, and, on the 
other, a restored primitive episcopate, with its regularly organ- 
ized societies of godly members, self-governed, under Christ, 
and in accordance with his word ; " which, challenging for all 
its members liberty in the realm of lofty thought, and provid- 
ing the means of order and activity in the walks of holy love, 
refuses to own authority or jurisdiction based on any relation 
beyond itself." 

And thus it came to pass that at Bristol, on the first of 
September, 1784, Wesley, aided by two ordained ministers of 
the English Church, set apart, according to the ordinal of that 
Church, Richard "Whatcoat and Thomas Yasey as deacons ; on 
the next day he ordained them elders. Afterward, assisted by 
the presbyters, he ordained Thomas Coke — as we claim — 
bishop, calling him, however, superintendent. Coleridge, in 
his notes on Hooker, makes the following statement : " Hooker 
was so good a man that it would be wicked to suspect him of 
knowingly playing the sophist. And yet, strange it is, that he 
should not have been aware that it was prelacy, not primitive 
episcopacy — the thing, not the name — that the Reformers con- 
tended against ; and if the Catholic Church and the national 

"Wesley and Coke. 487 

clergy were (as both parties -unhappily took for granted) one 
and the same, contended against with good reason. Knox's 
ecclesiastical polity (worthy of Lycurgus) adopted bishops 
under a different name ; or, rather, under a translation instead 
of a corruption of the name enloiccmoi. He would have had 
Wesley's commission of Dr. Thomas Coke is as follows : 

To all to whom these Presents shall come : John Wesley, late Fellow of Lin- 
coln College in Oxford, Presbyter of the Church of England, sendeth 
greeting : 

Whereas many of the people in the Southern Provinces of North 
America, who desire to continue under my care, and still adhere to the 
Doctrines and Discipline of the Church of England, are greatly distressed 
for want of ministers to administer the Sacraments of Baptism and the 
Lord's Supper, according to the usage of the said Church : And whereas 
there does not appear to be any other way of supplying them with 
ministers : 

Know all men that I, John Wesley, think myself to be providentially 
called at this time to set apart some persons for the work of the ministry 
in America. And, therefore, under the protection of Almighty God, and 
with a single eye to his glory, I have this day set apart as a superin- 
tendent, by the imposition of my hands and prayer, (being assisted by 
other ordained ministers,) Thomas Coke, Doctor of Civil Law, a Presby- 
ter of the Church of England, and a man whom I judge to be well qual- 
ified for that great work. And I do hereby recommend him to all whom 
it may concern as a fit person to preside over the flock of Christ. In 
testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this second day 
of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and 

y^^2n^ QJe^r Ce~iy 

Wesley immediately sent Coke thus commissioned, and the 
two elders, on their mission to America, with instructions to 
organize a Church, and to ordain Asbury as joint superintend- 
ent. He furnished them, also, with a " Sunday Service," 01 

liturgy, little differing from that of the Church of England ; a 

488 The "Wesley Memokial Volume. 

collection of psalms and hymns, and also the " Articles of 
Religion." Upon their arrival in America a special Con- 
ference was convened, and on December 27th sixty traveling 
preachers assembled in the City of Baltimore. Dr. Coke took 
the chair, and presented a letter from Wesley, written eight 
days after the ordinations, setting forth the grounds of what he 
had done and advised. After the consideration of this letter it 
was, with no dissenting voice, regularly and formally agreed to 
form a Methodist Episcopal Church, making the episcopal 
office elective, and the superintendent or bishop amenable to 
the body of ministers and preachers. Asbury refused the high 
office to which Wesley had appointed him unless it was ratified 
by the Conference ; and, in accordance with the act of organ- 
ization, both he and Coke were formally and unanimously 
chosen as " superintendents." On the second day of the session 
Asbury was ordained deacon, elder on the third, and superin- 
tendent on the fourth ; Coke being assisted by Whatcoat and 
Yasey, and also by Otterbein, a personal friend of Asbury and 
a minister in the German Reformed Church. Twelve preach- 
ers were ordained elders, and one deacon. 

Thus was it the rare fortune of Thomas Coke to be the 
honored instrument of transmitting from the illustrious founder 
to the pioneer bishop that church system in the institutions of 
which autonomy, homogeneity, and strength have been secured, 
together with the conservation of all the cardinal doctrines of 
the faith, the same forms of worship and principles of dis- 
cipline, and the spring of a constant, aggressive, mighty evan- 
gelization. Thomas Coke is one of the few elect names enjoy- 
ing the privilege of immortality. 

The main intention of Wesley in sending Coke to America 
was, as we have seen, and as we believe, to originate an Epis- 
copal Church, autonomous, and capable of perpetuating itself 
as well as working its own machinery. This had been accom- 
plished by the ordination of deacons and elders, and of Francis 
Asbury as bishop. Coke remained in the United States until 

Wesley and Coke. 489 

the following summer, attending with Bishop Asbury the ses- 
sions of the few Annual Conferences, (there were six in 1796,) 
and traveling extensively through the country. It was very 
competent for a man of Asbury's vigor and activity to do the 
work of a bishop at that early day, and, consequently, there 
was no urgent necessity that Coke should remain permanently. 
He accordingly returned to England. He made afterward 
eight visits to America, bearing the expenses of these voyages 
out of his private means. At the General Conference of 1801 
permission was granted Coke, at his own request, to return to 
England, subject to recall if his episcopal services were needed ; 
and at the subsequent General Conference this permission was 
continued, at the special request of the British Conference. 
There were then only eight Annual Conferences in the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, and no urgent demand for 
episcopal service beyond what was at the command of the 

"When in England Coke was the soul of the new missionary 
enthusiasm which was beginning to throb in the Methodism of 
the opening nineteenth century. He traversed England and 
Scotland, preaching, and soliciting money from door to door 
for the missions he was establishing and enlarging in ISTova 
Scotia, in the West India archipelago, at Gibraltar, and at 
Sierra Leone, besides home mission-fields in "Wales, and in 
destitute parts of England and Ireland. To this home depart- 
ment, in 1808, thirty-five missionaries were appointed. They 
tell of a certain captain of a man-of-war, in the English naval 
service, on whom Coke had called, introducing the condition 
of these missions, and requesting, very politely, a donation. 
This he received gratefully, and retired. The captain, who 
knew nothing of Dr. Coke, in conversation with a friend some 
hours afterward, said, " Pray, sir, do you know any thing of a 
little fellow who calls himself Dr. Coke, and who is going 
about begging money for missionaries to be sent among the 
slaves ? " "I know him well," was the reply. " He seems," 

490 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

rejoined the captain, " to be a heavenly-minded little devil • he 
coaxed me out of two guineas this morning." 

Long, however, before the opening of the nineteenth cent- 
ury, Coke was actively engaged in foreign mission schemes, as 
Coke's following letter to Mr. Fletcher, which was accompan- 
ied by his " Plan " for carrying the gospel to the " heathens," 
abundantly shows : 

Near Plymouth, January 6, 1784. 

My very dear Sir : — Lest Mr. Parker should neglect to send you one 
of our plans for the establishing of foreign missions, I take the liberty of 
doing it. Ten subscribers more, of two guineas per annum, have 
favored me with their names. If you can get a few subscribers more, 
we shall be obliged to you. 

We have now a very wonderful outpouring of the Spirit in the west 
of Cornwall. I have been obliged to make a wiuter campaign of it, and 
preach here and there out of doors. 

I beg my affectionate respects to Mrs. Fletcher. 

I entreat you to pray for your most affectionate friend and brother, 


I. Every person who subscribes two guineas yearly, or more, is to be 
admitted a member of the Society. 

II. A general meeting of the subscribers shall be held annually, on 
the last Tuesday in January. 

III. The first general meeting shall be held on the last Tuesday in 
January, 1784, at No. 11, in West-street, near the Seven Dials, London, 
at three o'clock in the afternoon. 

IV. At every general meeting a committee of seven, or more, shall be 
chosen by the majority of the subscribers, to transact the business of 
the Society for the ensuing year. 

V. The general meeting shall receive and examine the accounts of the 

* The original of this document and of Dr. Coke's autograph letter to Mr. 
Fletcher, as well as of Wesley's commission to Dr. Coke, are now in the possession 
of Mr. Samuel D. Waddy, Q.C., M.P., of London. Photo-lithographs of these doc- 
uments Mr. Waddy gave to me while I was in London. — Editor. 

"Wesley and Coke. 491 

Committee for the preceding year, of all sums paid to the use of the 
Society, of the purposes to which the whole or any part thereof shall 
have been applied, and also the report of all they have done, and the 
advices they have received. 

VI. The Committee, or the majority of them, shall have power, first, to 
call in the sums subscribed, or any part thereof, and to receive all col- 
lections, legacies, or other voluntary contributions. Secondly, to agree 
with any they shall approve, who may offer to go abroad, either as mis- 
sionaries or in any civil employment. Thirdly, to procure the best 
instruction which can be obtained for such persons, in the language of 
the country for which they are intended, before they go abroad. 
Fourthly, to provide for their expenses, in going and continuing abroad, 
and for their return home, after such time and under such circumstances 
as may be thought most expedient. Fifthly, to print the Scriptures, or 
so much thereof as the funds of the Society may admit, for the use of any 
heathen country. And, sixthly, to do every other act which to them 
may appear necessary, so far as the common stock of the Society will 
allow, for carrying the design of the Society into execution. 

VII. The Committee shall keep an account of the subscribers' names, 
and all sums received for the use of the Society, together with such ex- 
tracts of the entries of their proceedings and advices as may show those 
who are concerned all that has been done both at home and abroad; 
which statement shall be signed by at least three of the Committee. 

VIII. The Committee for the new year shall send a copy of the report 
for the past year, to all the members of the Society who were not pres- 
ent at the preceding General Meeting, and (free of postage) to every 
clergyman, minister, or other person, from whom any collection, legacy, 
or other benefaction shall have been received, withiu the time concern- 
ing which the report is made. 

IX. The Committee, if they see it necessary, shall have power to 
choose a secretary. 

X. The Committee shall at no time have any claim on the members 
of the Society, for any sum which may exceed the common stock of 
the Society. 

N. B. — Those who subscribe before the first general meeting, and to 
whom it may not be convenient to attend, are desired to favor the gen- 
eral meeting by letter (according to the above direction) with any im- 
portant remarks which may occur to them on the business, that the sub- 
scribers present may be assisted as far as possible, in settling the rules 
of the Society to the satisfaction of all concerned. 

492 The Wesley Memokial Volume. 

We have been already favored with the names of the following sub 
scribers, viz. : 

£ s. a. 

Miss Eliza Johnson, of Bristol 2 2 

Mr. Barton, of the Isle of Wight 2 2 

Mr. Henry Brooke, of Dublin 2 2 

Master and Miss Blashford, of Dublin . . . 4 4 o 

Mrs. Kirkover, of Dublin 2 2 

Mr. Smith, Bussia Merchant, of London. 5 5 

Mr. D'Olier, of Dublin 2 2 

Mrs. Smyth, of Dublin 2 2 

The Bev. Mr. Fletcher, of Madeley 2 2 

Miss Salmon 2 2 

Mr. Houlton, of London, an occasional 

subscriber 10 10 

Mrs. King, of Dublin 2 2 

£ s. d. 

Dr. Coke 2 2 

Bev. Mr. Simpson, of Macclesfield 2 2 

Bev. Mr. Bickcrstatf, of Leicester 2 2 

Mr. Eose, of Dorking 2 2 

Mr. Horton, of London 2 2 

Mr. Eyley, of London 2 2 

Mr. Biddsdale, of London 2 2 

Mr. Jay, of London ..2 2 

Mr. Dewey, of London 2 2 

Mr. Mandell, of Bath 2 2 

Mr. Jaques, of Wallingford 2 2 

Mr. Batting, of High Wickham 2 2 

Mr. John Clarke, of Newport, in the Isle 

of Wight 2 2 

66 3 


The present institution is so agreeable to the finest feelings of piety 
and benevolence, that little need be added for its recommendation. The 
candid of every denomination (even those who are entirely unconnected 
with the Methodists, and are determined so to be) will acknowledge 
the amazing change which our preaching has wrought upon the ig- 
norant and uncivilized, at least throughout these nations ; and they will 
admit that the spirit of a missionary must be of the most zealous, most 
devoted, and self-denying kind : nor is any thing more required to consti- 
tute a missionary for the heathen nations, than good sense, integrity, 
great piety, and amazing zeal. Men possessing all these qualifications 
in a high degree we have among us, and I doubt not but some of these 
will accept of the arduous undertaking, not counting their lives dear, if 
they may but promote the kingdom of Christ, and the present and eternal 
welfare of their fellow-creatures. And we trust nothing shall be want- 
ing, as far as time, strength, and abilities, will admit, to give the fullest 
and highest satisfaction to the promoters of the plan, on the part of 
Your devoted servants, Thomas Coke, 

Thomas Pabkek. 

Those who are willing to promote the institution are desired to send 
their names, places of abode, and sums subscribed, to the Kev. Dr. Coke, 
in London, or Thomas Parker, Esq., Barrister at Law, in York.* 

In 1805 Coke was married to a lady eminent for piety and 
liberality, the only surviving child of a wealthy solicitor of 

* Coke's " Plan " shows that a Foreign Missionary Society was organized by 
Coke eight years before the Baptist Foreign Missionary Society in 1792. 

Wesley and Coke. 493 

Bradford, who had bequeathed her an ample fortune. This 
lady sympathized heartily with all the large and liberal views 
of her husband ; and plentiful means were put at the dis- 
posal of this noble-hearted " foreign minister " of Method- 
ism. The missionary work went on enlarging year after year, 
intrusted almost entirely to his care. 

In 1806, while traveling in Cornwall, Coke obtained from 
Colonel Sandys, a gentleman who had served twenty years in 
the East Indies, much information with respect to the religious 
state of the country, and the prospects of Christian missions 
there. This led to communication with Dr. Buchanan, who 
was a relative of Colonel Sandys, and who gave further infor- 
mation. The result of his inquiries led to an application to the 
Conference, in 1813, for leave to initiate a mission to India. 
His estimable wife had died two years and a half before this. 

Dr. Coke was now in his sixty-seventh year, but with a zeal 
which age could not quench or obstructions baffle. "With a 
magnificence of moral daring, ever forgetting the things which 
were behind, like a racer in full course and nearing the goal, 
his spirit caught inspiration from successes already won, and 
from the prize growing luminous before the eye of his hope. 
He saw India, the populous realm where idolatry and panthe- 
ism had reigned from time immemorial, enlightened by the 
gospel ; its foul and bloody superstition subverted ; the shrines 
of its idols deserted — Domos Ditis vacuas et inania regna. 

With faith's vision of the reign of the Son of God made 
wide as the world, the heathen his inheritance, and the utter- 
most parts of the earth his possession ; ages of peace gliding 
on, and the earth full of the knowledge of the Lord, Coke 
longed to plant a mission in Ceylon, the ancient Taprobana ; 
an island thft seemed to be the key to a far-extending line of 
aggressive missionary operations in the interior of India. With 
these feelings he proposed his plans to the Conference. There 
was opposition. Benson, with vehemence, declared that "it 
would be the ruin of Methodism." Some thought the under- 

494 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

taking too arduous for his time of life ; some thought he 
could not be spared from the support of the missions already 
established ; others spoke of the embarrassed financial condi- 
tion of the Connection. " Yet," says the historian, " when 
the doctor detailed the providential circumstances which led 
him to desire the establishment of this mission, the favora- 
ble disposition which some men in power had manifested to- 
ward the proposed object, the reasons which led him to visit 
the eastern regions of the globe, and especially when he pre- 
sented himself and six other preachers who were prepared 
to dare all the dangers of the enterprise, and added, boldly 
and generously, that if the Connection could not consistently 
bear the expense of the undertaking he was prepared, out 
of his own private fortune, to defray the expense of the out- 
fit to the extent of £6,000, his brethren were alike amazed 
at the magnitude of the work and the manner in which it had 
been laid open to their efforts ; and, awed into acquiescence by 
such a splendid example of devotion and generosity, gave 
their consent. It was, therefore, resolved, ' That the Confer- 
ence authorizes and appoints Dr. Coke to undertake a mission 
to Ceylon and Java, and allows him to take with him six mis- 
sionaries, exclusively of one for the Cape of Good Hope.' " * 

It may be questioned whether a grander scene was ever 
witnessed in the deliberations of a Conference. Grand 
old captain ! Never shall you see the missionary host retreat, 
with banners furled and " despair their dirge ! " 

The voyage of the' missionaries to India was commenced 
January 2, 1814. The fleet was composed of eight regular 
Indiamen and twenty smaller vessels, under the convoy of 
three ships of war. On April twentieth they rounded the 
Cape of Good Hope. On May second Coke complained of a 
little indisposition. On the morning of the third his servant 
knocked at his cabin door ; receiving no reply he opened it, 

* Smith's " History of Wesleyan Methodism," vol. ii, p. 541. 

Wesley and Coke. 495 

and entering, found the mortal remains of this great man life- 
less and cold on the cabin floor. He had died of apoplexy. 
His remains were committed to the deep with all solemnity, Mr. 
Harvard, one of the missionaries, reading the burial service.* 

It is useless to attempt to fathom the inscrutable provi- 
dence of God. The life-work of Coke was accomplished. 
The profound sensation awakened by the unexpected death 
of the leader of a great religious movement on Asia was 
the occasion of rousing the whole Wesleyan Church to 
meet the emergency. Certainly no man since Wesley's death, 
up to that of Coke, had exercised an influence so wide and 
profound on all Methodism. Richard Watson says : " The 
work in which Dr. Coke's soul had so greatly delighted, and 
in the prosecution of which he died, seemed to derive new 
interest from those retrospections to which the contempla- 
tion of his life, character, and labors necessarily led ; and his 
loss, while it dictated the necessity of the exertions of the 
many to supply the efforts of one, diffused the spirit of holy 
zeal with those regrets which consecrated his memory." 

Missionary societies were formed in the principal cities of 
England ; public meetings were held ; a more general concern 
for the conversion of the heathen was awakened; and plans 
were adopted for a permanent and enlarging supply of money 
for the enlarging field of foreign missionary operations. In 
point of fact there has never, since the days of the apostles, 
been a period richer in missionary development and results 
than that which has elapsed from Dr. Coke's death to the 
present time. 

And yet, with all the united and even formidable effort 
made during most of the present century, little more has 
been don# than to occupy important positions and multiply 

* When Bishop Asbury heard of the death of Dr. Coke, he wrote in his journal: 
"Dr. Coke, of blessed mind and soul, of the third branch of Oxonian Methodists, 
a gentleman, a scholar, and a bishop to us. As a minister of Christ, in zeal, in 
labor, and in services, the greatest man in the last century." — Editok. 

496 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

facilities for ultimate and entire conquest. Nevertheless, as 
Harris finely puts it : " The unseen is greater far than that 
which appears. The missionary has been planting the earth 
with principles ; and these are of as much greater value than 
the visible benefits which they have already produced as the 
tree is more valuable than its first year's fruit. He who, in the 
strength of God, conveys a great truth to a distant region, or 
puts into motion a divine principle, has performed a work of 
which futurity alone can disclose the benefits." 

What may not the close of the twentieth century witness ? 
"With a firm adherence to the purpose and agencies of the gos- 
pel amid the mighty collisions of opinion which forbid all fur- 
ther stagnation — with the favor of a general opinion on the side 
of missionary operations, and the world open to the two great 
English-speaking missionary nations — with a Bible translated 
into all tongues, and the British and American Bible Societies 
putting the book thus translated into universal circulation at 
the minimum cost — with general, cordial Christian co-opera- 
tion, contributing diversified facilities and varied services — 
with a native ministry, the fruit of past missionary labors, and 
a power of self-support that is the prophecy of rapid increase 
as well as the ground of stability — in fine, with the truth of 
God, the unlimited redemption of Christ, the power of the 
Holy Ghost, the force of prayer, the life of religion enhanced 
in the experience, sympathies, benevolent gifts, and activities 
of Christendom, the providence of God on our side, and the 
whole Church in missionary action, what may not our sons 
and successors see ? 

But not until the books of universal history are opened at 
the last day, and the far-reaching and ultimate results of 
human character and action are disclosed, will it be known how 
much the nineteenth century, and all succeeding centuries, 
down to the last syllable of recorded time, owe to two men — ■ 
John Wesley and Thomas Coke. 


JF I had been requested to write a duograph under this head- 
ing, for a separate publication, I should want a much larger 
space than can be afforded in this Memorial Volume. In that 
case I should have had to go minutely into the biography of 
each of these distinguished men. But as this is one of a series of 
memorial essays, treating of ecumenical Methodism, my duty 
seems to be limited to a notice of Wesley and Asbury as the 
acknowledged leaders of Methodism — the former in Great 
Britain and its dependencies, and the latter in America. This 
is recognized by Wesley himself. In a characteristic letter to 
Asbury, dated London, September 20, 1788, two or three 
years before Wesley's death, and four years after the Method- 
ist Episcopal Church in America was organized, he says : — 

There is, indeed, a wide difference between the relation wherein you 
stand to the Americans, and the relation wherein I stand to all the 
Methodists. You are the older brother of the American Methodists ; I 
am, under God, the father of the whole family. Therefore I naturally 
care for you all in a manner no other person can do. Therefore I, in a 
measure, provide for you all. 

At that very time Asbury was the recognized leader, and 
destined to be the father, of American Methodism. 

It may be interesting to note the points of resemblance and 
difference between these two men in their parentage and 
family, as *pell as their intellectual and moral character and 

John Wesley was the son of the Rev. Samuel Wesley, 
rector of Epworth, Lincolnshire, where he was born June 17, 
1703. His father was a High-Churchman, devout, learned, 

498 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

and laborious, a respectable poet, and a prolific author. His 
mother, Susanna Wesley, was a daughter of the Rev. Samuel 
Annesley, one of the most learned and pious of the Puritan 
divines, who transmitted many of his admirable qualities of 
mind and heart to his daughter. Her superior it would be 
difficult to find. 

Wesley's training, in childhood at home, in boyhood at the 
Charter House, in early manhood at Oxford, was thorough ; 
and his acquirements in all branches of science and literature' 
then taught were rare. He had a mind capable of mastering 
with ease every subject to which it was applied. His piety 
was deep and earnest : at first it was tinctured with asceticism, 
but it gradually expanded into a most healthful, cheerful, 
Catholic character, inferior to few, if any, to be found in the 
annals of the Church. His zeal was what Charles Wes- 
ley called " the pure flame of love." It was what Charles 
has also called a " yearning pity for mankind," a " burning 
charity ; " it was an all-consuming desire to promote the 
glory of God, like that which induced his great Exemplar to 
say, " The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up." All this 
qualified Wesley for the part he was to act as the prime 
mover in the great religious reformation of the eighteenth 

Unless a man were inspired, as were the apostles and evan- 
gelists, it is safe to say that he could not be " master of the 
situation " — adequate to the task to which Wesley was called — 
if he had not Wesley's logical, legislative mind, vast stores of 
information, and magnetic power over those who were brought 
under his influence. 

Look at the men who have figured in history, then look at 
the work which Wesley wrought, and say who could have filled 
his place. The man is not to be found. 

" His life was gentle ; and the elements 

So mixed in him, that nature might stand up, 

And say to all the world, This is a man ! " 

Wesley and Asjbuky. 499 

I am not writing a eulogy of John Wesley ; that is not mv 
object. I am merely stating the result of a more than ordinary 
study of Wesley's life and labors, and the impression he has 
made upon the world ; and this is my conviction, that God 
raised him up and endowed him for the special work which 
lie performed. 

Many lives of "Wesley have been written — the best, perhaps, 
is that unique autobiography, his journal, which is of tran- 
scendent interest, and which, together with his letters, ser- 
mons, and other works, affords us ample means of judging of 
his character, and the place he is destined to fill in the history 
of the Church. . 

" Francis Asbury was one of Wesley's most devoted followers. 
He imbibed his spirit, emulated his zeal, and was, like him, 
more abundant in labors than any other man of his age. But 
it is obvious that Asbury could not have performed Wesley's 
work; and it is not too much to say, Wesley could not have 
performed Asbury's. God raised up and glorified the latter 
for his peculiar work, as he did the former for his. 

Several lives and sketches of Asbury have been written, by 
far the best being that of Bishop Wightman, in " Biographical 
Sketches of Itinerant Ministers." But he who would have a 
full and correct view of Asbury's character and work must 
read his journal. This is a work as remarkable as Wesley's, 
but 0, how different ! It is simple, inartistic, repetitious ; and 
its crudeness is unrelieved by judicious editing — of which he 
himself complains in regard to the portions which were pub- 
lished before his death. But it is a faithful record of his life 
and times. 

I have been favored with some of his autograph letters, 
which have aided me in forming a judgment of his character. 
In addition to this I enjoyed a personal acquaintance with some 
of the fathers and mothers of the Church in New York, Phil- 
adelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Charleston, etc., from whom 
I derived much information concerning this apostolic man. 

500 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

Fortunately, we have from his own pen an account of his 
parentage and early life. In his journal, July 1792, he says : 

I was born in Old England, near the foot of Hampstead Bridge, in the 
parish of Handsworth, about four miles from Birmingham, in Stafford- 
shire, and, according to the best of my after-knowledge, on the 20th or 
21st day of August, in the year of our Lord 1745. 

My father's name was Joseph, and my mother's Elizabeth, Asbnry; 
they were people in common life ; were remarkable for honesty and in- 
dustry, and had all things needful to enjoy. Had my father been as sav- 
ing as laborious he might have been wealthy. As it was, it was his 
province to be employed as a farmer and gardener by the two richest 
families in the parish. My parents had but two children, a daughter 
called Sarah, and myself. My lovely sister died in infancy ; she was a 
favorite, and my dear mother, being very affectionate, sunk into deep 
distress at the loss of a darling child, from which she was not relieved 
for many years. It was under this dispensation that God was pleased to 
open the eyes of her mind, she living in a very dark, dark, dark day 
and place. She now began to read almost constantly when leisure pre- 
sented the opportunity. When a child, I thought it strange my mother 
should stand by a large window poring over a book for hours together. 
From my childhood, I may say, I have neither 

— dared an oath, nor hazarded a lie. 

The love of truth is not natural, but the habit of telling it I acquired 
very early; and so well was I taught, that my conscience would never 
permit me to swear profanely. I learned from my parents a certain form 
of words for prayer, and I well remember my mother strongly urged my 
father to family reading and prayer; the singing of psalms was much 
practiced by them both. My foible was the ordinary foible of children — 
fondness for play ; but I abhorred mischief and wickedness, although my 
mates were among the vilest of the vile for lying, swearing, fighting, 
and whatever else boys of their age and evil habits were likely to be 
guilty of; from such society I very often returned home uneasy and mel- 
ancholy; and although driven away by my better principles, still I 
would return, hoping to find happiness where I never found it. Some- 
times I was much ridiculed, and called "Methodist parson," because my 
mother invited any people who had the appearance of religion to her 

I was sent to school early, and began to read the Bible between six 

"Wesley and Asbuky. 501 

and seven years of age, and greatly delighted in the historical part of it. 
My school-master was a great churl, and used to beat me cruelly ; this 
drove me to prayer, and it appeared to me that God was near to me. 
My father, having but the one son, greatly desired to keep me at 
school, he cared not how long; but in this design he was disappointed; 
for my master, by his severity, had filled me with such horrible dread, 
that with me any thing was preferable to going to school. I lived some 
time in one of the wealthiest and most ungodly families we had in the 
parish ; here I became vain, but not openly wicked. Some months after 
this I returned home, and made my choice, when about thirteen years 
and a half old, to learn a branch of business, at which I wrought about 
six years and a half. During this time I enjoyed great liberty, and in 
the family was treated more like a son or an equal than an apprentice. 

Soon after I entered on that business God sent a pious man, not a 
Methodist, into our neighborhood, and my mother invited him to our 
house. By his conversation and prayers I was awakened before I was 
fourteen years of age. It was now easy and pleasing to leave my com- 
pany, and I began to pray morning and evening, being drawn by the 
cords of love as with the bands of a man. I soon left our blind priest 
and went to West-Bromwich Church : there I heard Ryland, Stilling- 
fleet, Talbot, Bagnall, Mansfield, Haweis, and Venn — great names, and 
esteemed gospel ministers. I became very serious, reading a great deal 
Whitefield's and Cennick's sermons, and every good book I could meet 
with. It was not long before I began to inquire of my mother Who, 
"Where, What, were the Methodists. She gave me a favorable account, 
and directed me to a person that could take me to Wednesbury to hear 
them. I soon found this was not the Church, but it was better. The 
people were so devout — men and women kneeling down — saying Amen. 
Now, behold! they were singing hymns — sweet sound! Why, strange 
to tell, the preacher had no prayer-book, and yet he prayed wonderfully I 
What was yet more extraordinary, the man took his text and had no 
sermon-book. Thought I, This is wonderful, indeed. It is certainly a 
strange way, but the best way. He talked about confidence, assurance, 
etc., of which all my flights and hopes fell short. I had no deep con- 
victions, nor had I committed any deep, known sins. At one sermon, 
some time after, my companion was powerfully wrought on; I was ex- 
ceedingly grieved that I could not weep like him; yet I knew myself to 
be in a state of unbelief. On a certain time, when we were praying in 
my father's barn, T believed the Lord pardoned my sins and justified my 
soul; but my companion reasoned me out of this belief, saying, "Mr. 

502 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

Mather said a believer was as happy as if he was in heaven." I thought 
I was not as happy as I would be there, and gave up my confidence, and 
that for months; yet I was happy, free from guilt and fear, and had 
power over sin, and felt great inward joy. After this, we met for read- 
ing and prayer, and had large and good meetings, and were much perse- 
cuted, until the persons at whose houses we held them were afraid, and 
they were discontinued. I then held meetings frequently at my father's 
house, exhorting the people there, as also at Sutton Colefield, and 
several souls professed to find peace through my labors. I met class 
awhile at Bromwich-Heath, and met in band at Wednesbury. I had 
preached some months before I publicly preached in the Methodist meet- 
ing-houses; when my labors became more public and extensive, some 
were amazed, not knowing how I had exercised elsewhere. Behold me 
now, a local preacher! the humble and willing servant of any and of 
every preacher that called on me by night or by day ; being ready, with 
hasty steps, to go far and wide to do good, visiting Derbyshire, Stafford- 
shire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, and, indeed, almost every place 
within my reach, for the sake of precious souls ; preaching, generally, 
three, four, and five times a week, and at the same time pursuing my 
calling. I think when I was between twenty-one and twenty-two years 
of age I gave myself up to God and his work, after acting as a local 
preacher near the space of five years; it is now the 19th of July, 1792. 
I have been laboring for God and souls about thirty years, or upward. 

Sometime after I had obtained a clear witness of my acceptance with 
God, the Lord showed me, in the heat of youth and youthful blood, the 
evil of my heart; for a short time I enjoyed, as I thought, the pure and 
perfect love of God ; but this happy frame did not long continue, al- 
though, at seasons, I was greatly blessed. While I was a traveling 
preacher in England I was much tempted, finding myself exceedingly 
ignorant of almost every thing a minister of the gospel ought to know. 
How I came to America, and the events which have happened since, my 
journal will show. 

From other sources we learn that " the branch of business 
at which he wrought " was the making of " buckle-chapes." 

Asbury's early associations were not, like Wesley's, among 
gentlemen, scholars, and divines ; but they were such as emi- 
nently fitted him for the work to which he was subsequently 
called, and which he so well performed. 

It is difficult to settle the terminus a quo of Wesleyan Meth- 

Wesley and Asbuet. 503 

odism. "Wesley himself did not settle it. In November, 1729, 
while at Oxford, he and his brother, and Messrs. Morgan and 
Kirkman, formed a society for their own spiritual improve- 
ment. The wits of Oxford dubbed it with the old nickname 
of " Methodist," and ridiculed John Wesley as " the father of 
the Holy Club." Hervey, Ingham, and a few others joined 
this society ; but it was soon dissolved. In 1739 a society was 
organized by Wesley in London ; this is considered the nucleus 
of "the United Society," which was developed into the Wes- 
leyan Methodist Society of Great Britain and its dependencies, 
and the Methodist Episcopal Church in America, which was 
organized by Wesley's direction in 1784, nearly seven years 
before his death. 

The work which Wesley accomplished is simply stupendous. 
I shall not here attempt to review it or describe it. I shall not 
even refer to the records of it in his journal — his epitaph at 
City Road, his memorial tablet in Westminster Abbey, or the 
Wesley Monumental Church in Savannah — if you want to see 
it, " Circumspice ! " 

The labors of Asbury are not so well known as those of 
Wesley — even in America ; yet we are safe in affirming that 
for half a century they were as incessant, and, in their sphere, 
as important and fruitful as those of his illustrious exemplar. 

In August, 1771, Asbury offered himself at the British Con- 
ference as a missionary to America, and was accepted by Wes- 
ley. He " had not one penny of money " when he joined his 
colleague, Richard Wright, in Bristol, after taking leave of his 
parents and other friends, preparatory to his embarkation. 
Friends furnished him with clothes and £10. They embarked 
September 2, and reached Philadelphia October 27. I remem- 
ber a trustworthy tradition which I heard over forty years ago, 
that when he landed he exclaimed, " This is the country for 
me ; here I shall end my days ! " A sentiment of this sort fre- 
quently speaks out in his journal. 

He felt that he had a divine call to America, and he became 

504 The "Wesley Memorial Volume. 

intensely American ; hence when other British missionaries re- 
turned to England, at the time of the Revolution, the thought 
of doing so never entered his head. This will explain several 
passages in his history. 

Asbury entered immediately and earnestly on the great work 
which he had undertaken ; and as he gave proof of his great 
executive ability, the next year "Wesley appointed him his gen- 
eral assistant ; that is, he invested him with power to supervise 
all the Societies and preachers in America. This is modestly 
noted in his journal, September 10, 1772 : — 

I received a letter from Mr. "Wesley, in which he required a strict at- 
tention to discipline, and appointed me to act as his assistant. 

In 1773 Wesley sent over two more missionaries, Messrs. 
Rankin and Shadf ord ; and as Rankin was Asbury's senior, 
he superseded him as " general assistant." It is gratifying to 
see with what pleasure Asbury resigned the superintendency 
to Rankin. In his journal, June 3, 1773, he says : — 

To my great comfort arrived Mr. R., Mr. S., Mr. Y., and Captain W. 
Mr. R. preached a good sermon. He will not be admired as a preacher, 
but as a disciplinarian he will fill his place. 

Elsewhere he writes : — 

Mr. R. dispensed the word of truth with power. On my return to 
New York I found Mr. R. had been well employed in settling matters 
pertaining to the Society. 

It is very clear, however, that Rankin was not, for the times, 
the right man in the right place. He was a Scotchman — 
British to the backbone — a rigid disciplinarian — and he gave 
offense to the preachers and people. 

For three or four years during the Revolutionary war As- 
bury was forced to comparative retirement. In his journal, 
April 11, 1778, he says :— 

The reason of this retirement was as follows : From March 10, 1778, 
on conscientious principles I was a non-juror, and could not preach in 

Wesley and Asburt. 505 

the State of Maryland, and therefore withdrew to the Delaware State, 
where the clergy were not required to take the State oath; though with 
a clear conscience I could have taken the oath of the Delaware State, 
had it been required; and would have done it, had I not been prevented 
by a tender fear of hurting the scrupulous consciences of others. 

April 24, 1780, he says :— 

Eode to Baltimore, and my friends were much rejoiced to see me; 
but silence broke my heart. The act against non-jurors reduced me to 
silence, because the oath of fidelity required by the act of the State of 
Maryland was preposterously rigid. I became a citizen of Delaware, 
and was regularly returned. I was at this time under recommendation 
of the Governor of Delaware as taxable. 

' He, however, met the Conference in Baltimore, (the 25th,) 
and "preached (the 26th) on Acts vi, 4, with liberty." 

Some of the Methodists in Virginia — their hearts being 
made sick by hope deferred — had ordained certain preachers 
to administer the ordinances. We do not wonder at this, and 
are not disposed to censure them for so doing. But perhaps it 
was inexpedient. In his journal, April 25, Asbury says : 

Our Conference met in peace and love. "We settled all our northern 
stations; then we began in much debate about the letter sent from Vir- 
ginia. We first concluded to renounce them ; then I offered conditions 
of union: — 

1. That they should ordain no more; 2. That they should come no 
farther than Hanover Circuit; 3. We would have our delegates in their 
conference; 4. That they should not presume to administer the ordi- 
nances where there is a decent Episcopal minister; 5. To have a union 

These would not do, as we found upon long debate ; and we came 
back to our determinations, although it was like death to think of 
parting. At last a thought struck my mind ; to propose a suspension of 
the ordinances for one year, and so cancel all our grievances and be one. 
It was agreed on both sides, and Philip Gatch and Reuben Ellis, who 
had been very stiff, came into it, and thought it would do. 

The expedient was adopted, and the result exceeded their 
sanguine expectations. Surely the Methodists could not be 

506 The Wesley Memorial Volume. 

eeyerely censured for desiring their own preachers to give 
them the ordinances. 

Mr. "Wesley said : " I still believe the episcopal form of 
church government to be scriptural and apostolical — I mean, 
well agreeing with the practice and writings of the apostles. 
But that it is prescribed in Scripture I do not believe. This 
opinion, which I once zealously expressed, I have been heartily 
ashamed of ever since I read Bishop Stillingfleet's Irenicon. 
I think he has unanswerably proved, that neither Christ nor 
his apostles prescribe any particular form of church govern- 
ment ; and that the plea of divine right for diocesan episcopacy 
was never heard of in the primitive Church." When pressed 
concerning his " acting as a bishop," he defended it by saying : 
" I firmly believe that I am a scriptural episkopos, as much as 
any other man in England or in Europe. For the uninter- 
rupted succession I know to be a fable, which no man ever did 
or can prove." 

"Wesley, indeed, still held that none should administer the 
sacraments who had not been ordained by the imposition of the 
hands of prelate or presbyter ; but he furnished no proof of a 
position which was the last relic of his High-Church training. 

His. successors in the Methodist ministry, for years after his 
death, did set apart men, without any imposition of hands, to 
administer the ordinances ; and when they adopted their 
appropriate ceremony of ordination, those who laid hands on 
others never had hands laid on them — unless there chanced to 
be one or more who had been so ordained — as when Bishop 
Soule, in 1842, assisted in. the ordinations of the British 

In a pastoral address the British Conference affirmed that 
the power to administer the sacraments is a sequence to the call 
to preach — not denying, that for prudential reasons the ex- 
ercise of it might be restricted to those of a particular rank in 
the ministry. The Conference might have gone further than 
that : it might have affirmed that, as preaching is the highest 

"Wesley and Asbuby. 507 

and most important ministerial work, the power to administer 
the ordinances might go along with it. The New Testament 
nowhere restricts baptizing to ministers of the word, but it- 
seems to intimate that it is subordinate to preaching, and was 
sometimes performed by men who were not in the ministry. 
Comp. Acts x ; 1 Cor. i. And there is not a syllable in the 
New Testament about the administrator of the other sacrament. 

The validity of lay baptism has been recognized by the 
highest authorities of the Ohnrch, and it has obtained in every 
age. For the sake of regularity it is expedient to restrict the 
administration of the ordinances to the ministers of the word, 
as is done in nearly all Churches. The Virginia Methodists 
did that ; but they did not wait for prelatical or presbyterial 
authority to set the preachers apart to this work by the impo- 
sition of hands. In this, as we have seen, they were imitated 
by the British Methodists. 

When we reflect seriously on the circumstances in which 
the Churches were placed, we feel prompted to approve of 
what they did, rather than to censure it. I apprehend that if 
I had been living among them I should have done as the Vir- 
ginia brethren did ; and yet it was well that they acceded to 
the prudent proposal of Bishop Asbury, and for twelve months 
suspended the exercise of what they considered an undoubted 

It was naturally asked, Are the Methodists to become Quak- 
ers ? "What are they to do ? They cannot beg the ordinances 
from New England Congregationalists, or Presbyterians, 
whether Dutch, German, French, or Scotch, in the Middle 
States, or Anglicans in the South, or Baptists anywhere. 
The Virginia Methodists were decided Arminians, pronounced 
Episcopalians, whole-souled Methodists — and as such were gen- 
erally denounced as heretics and schismatics, and despised as 
ignorant fanatics. Nine tenths of them were willing to occupy 
the humble position of members of a society in communion 
with the Anglican Church, and to receive the ordinances from 

508 The Wesley Memokial Volume. 

the ministers of that Establishment ; but Episcopal ministers 
in Virginia were then few and far between, and, according to 
the testimony of Mr. Jarrett, (who was one of them,) nearly- 
all of them were strangers to vital godliness, if they were not 
openly wicked. 

The more we think on this subject the more do we wonder 
at the moderation and patience of the Virginia Methodists, 
and admire their reverential and filial regard for Asbury as 
the general assistant of Mr. Wesley in America. But the 
hand of God was in all this. 

In 1783 the war of the Revolution ended, peace was pro- 
claimed, and the jurisdiction of the Bishop of London ceased 
to exist in America. There was no longer an Episcopal 
Chnrch, with bishops, priests, and deacons, in the United 
States. Then came relief. How it came is thus naively stated 
by Asbury, in his journal : — 

Sunday, Nov. 15. — I came to Barratt's Chapel ; here, to my great joy, 
I met those dear men of God, Dr. Coke and Richard Whatcoat; we 
were greatly comforted together. The doctor preached on " Christ our 
wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." Having had 
no opportunity of conversing with them before public worship, I was 
greatly surprised to see Brother Whatcoat assist by taking the cup in 
the administration of the sacrament. I was shocked when first informed 
of the intention of these my brethren in coming to this country : it may be 
of God. My answer then was, If the preachers unanimously choose me 
I shall not act in the capacity I have hitherto done by Mr. Wesley's ap- 
pointment. The design of organizing the Methodists into an independ- 
ent Episcopal Church was opened to the preachers present, and it was 
agreed to call a General Conference to meet at Baltimore the ensuing 
Christmas ; and also that Brother Garrettson go off to Virginia to give 
notice thereof to our brethren in the South. 

Tuesday, 16. — Rode to Bohemia, where I met Thomas Vasey, who 
came over with the Doctor and R. Whatcoat. My soul is deeply en- 
gaged with God to know his will in this new business. 

Friday, 26. — I observed this day as a day of fasting and prayer, that 
I might know the will of God in the matter that is shortly to come be- 
fore our Conference ; the preachers and people seem to be much pleased 

Wesley and Asbury. 509 

with the projected plan. I myself am led to think it is of the Lord. I 
am not tickled with the honor to be gained — I see danger in the way. 
My soul waits upon God. O that he might lead us in the way we should 
co! Part of my time is, and must necessarily be, taken up with pre- 
paring for the Conference. 

Tuesday, 30. — I preached with enlargement to rich and poor on "that 
we may have boldness in the day of judgment." The Lord has done 

great things for these people. The Rev. Mr. W s and myself had 

an interesting conversation on the subject of the episcopal mode of 
Church government. I spent the evening with D. Weems, and spoke to 
the black people. 

Saturday, December 18. — Spent the day at Perry Hall, partly in pre- 
paring for Conference. Continued at Perry Hall until Friday, the 24th. 
We then rode to Baltimore, where we met a few preachers ; it was 
agreed to form ourselves into an episcopal Church, and to have superin- 
tendents, elders, and deacons. When the Conference was seated Dr. 
Coke and myself were unanimously elected to the superintendency of 
the Church, and my ordination followed, after being previously ordained 
deacon and elder, as by the following certificate may be seen : 

Know all men by these presents, That I, Thomas Coke, Doctor of Civil Law, late 
of Jesus College, in the University of Oxford, presbyter of the Church of England, 
and superintendent of the Methodist Episcopal Church iu America, under the pro- 
tection of Almighty God, and with a single eye to his glory, by the imposition of 
my hands and prayer, (being assisted by two ordained elders,) did, on the twenty- 
fifth day of this month, December, set apart Francis Asbury for the office of a 
deacon in the aforesaid Methodist Episcopal Church. And also, on the twenty-sixth 
day of the said month, did, by the imposition of my hands and prayer, (being assisted 
by the said elders,) set apart the sa